Saturday, November 23, 2019

Rounded with a sleep

Fernando was quarterback at Naples High. A popular, dashing, but reclusive, mysterious student. He seemed to live alone. No one ever met his parents or siblings–assuming he had any siblings. 

Miranda, she of the shimmering hair and flashing eyes, was his girlfriend  Although Caliban played on the same team, as wide receiver, he was jealous of Fernando. At first resenting the fact that he was the quarterback, making Fernando the titular star player.

To make matters worse, Fernando and Caliban were both in love with Miranda. When Miranda became Fernando's girlfriend, that fueled the jealousy, but he concealed his ire.   

Fernando's home lay at the foot of a woodsy trail, with a brick gateway. The estate was enclosed by a high brick wall. Once inside, a footpath led to a log cabin on a hillside. The cabin had a balcony with a sweeping a view of the lake below. Sloping down and out from the hillside was a sprawling mossy front yard with fruit trees. On one side was a forest. On the other side a ravine with a brook that emptied into the lake. 

The estate seemed to have its own climate, impervious to seasonal fluctuations in temperature. Although the foliage underwent summery or autumnal variations in color, with the occasional dusting of snow in winter, the deciduous foliage was never denuded. Fruit trees bloomed year around while songbirds warbled year round. 

Fernando and Miranda used to walk home together after school, hand-in-hand. They hung out at his place. Before dark, he'd escort her back to her own home. One time Caliban followed them, shadowing them at a distance, to keep out of sight. Standing behind a tree, he watched them pass through the gate. After a few moments, to approach it undetected, he resumed. But when he went to the gate, it was locked. Through the grillwork he could see a footpath on the other side, but the view was cuff-off by a bend in the trail. And the walls were too smooth and high to scale.  

On one rare occasion, Fernando invited the entire team over for a post-season BBQ. They trooped down together from the high school to his house, with Fernando and Miranda in the lead. The party continued into the evening hours, with a bonfire down on the beach. Then everyone went home. 

A few days later, Caliban skipped school. He wore a backpack with a rope, grappling hook, and accelerants. He was planning to set fire to Fernando's house. But as he made his way down the trail, there was no gate. The trail continued down to the lake. No cabin, fruit trees, or songbirds. Just a narrow footpath in the forest. And the air had a frigid edge. 

Was he on the wrong trail? But how could that be? He distinctly remembered the trail. And there was no other trail. 

A few days later he skipped school again, renting a little motorboat to find the estate from the other side. But the entire shoreline was forested. No cabin on a hilltop, with a sprawling front yard. 

On graduation day, when festivities were over, Fernando and Miranda walked down to his house. That's the last time anyone ever saw them. 

Caliban was baffled. Did the estate not exist in our world? Was the gate a portal to a parallel world? Or did the estate only exist in the imagination? A phantasmagorical projection onto a real spot in space and time? 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why not commit apostasy?

The primary reason I wouldn't commit apostasy is because the case for Christianity is overwhelming, based on multiple lines of evidence, direct and indirect, public and private. But there are additional considerations:

i) It would be a betrayal of my own generation, as well as younger generations in the pipeline. I care what happens to them. It would be as if I know the way out of the cave, but I keep that to myself. I refuse to show lost men, women, and children the way out of the cave. I leave them there to die in the dark, leave them there to die of thirst. Even if I personally wanted to commit suicide in the cave, I have a duty to show the lost the way out of the cave, and go back for more. 

ii) As a Christian blogger, I've had enormous exposure to apostates and atheists. I find them repellent. Even if I lost my faith, I'd far rather continue attending church than spend my time in the social company of apostates and atheists. They'd make dreadful company. People who think this life is enough are unbearably shallow, and willfully superficial.  

And how many would take a bullet for a friend. In fairness, there's the occasional atheist who will take a bullet for a friend, but nothing is dumber than idealistic atheists. That's not an attitude I respect or admire. 

I'm not talking about friendship evangelism or outreach to unbelievers. I'm talking about the notion that the company of apostates and atheists would ever be an appealing alternative to Christian friendship and fellowship.

I'd add that some people who lose their faith regain their faith. So maintaining Christian fellowship wouldn't just be a palliative. 

Apparitions At Enfield

The Enfield case arguably began with an apparition, and apparitions were still being reported around thirty years later. Margaret Hodgson referred to an apparition she saw while using a Ouija board in 1974, and she reported seeing the same apparition when the poltergeist was at the height of its activities a few years later (Guy Playfair, This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 238-39). When the Bennetts moved into the house after Peggy Hodgson's death in 2003, one of them reported that, "The night before we moved out, I woke up and saw a man come into the room."

What I want to focus on in this post is the evidence we have for apparitions between those two points in the case. I'll largely be drawing from Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes. I'll use "MG" to cite Grosse's tapes and "GP" to cite Playfair's. MG99B refers to Grosse's tape 99B, GP14A refers to Playfair's tape 14A, and so forth. It's helpful in some contexts to be able to picture the layout of the Hodgsons' house, so go here to see a floor plan.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sin against ecology

True, there's no such thing as a sin against ecology. However, Rome has been inventing sins for centuries, so this is just the latest in a string of new, hitherto unsuspected sins. Rome first invents a nonexistent sin, then invents the nonexistent authority to absolve the nonexistent sin. The perfect racket. That's been a thriving business, so why stop now?

Even making allowance for hyperbole, surely the CCC is for many observance Catholics the go-to reference work on official Catholic teaching. 

RadTrads are the new cafeteria Catholics

Another alternative is a conservatism that simply resolves the apparent conflict between tradition and papal power in favor of the latter, submitting its private judgment to papal authority in 19th-century style — even if that submission requires accepting shifts on sex, marriage, celibacy and other issues that look awfully like the sort of liberal Protestantism that the 19th-century popes opposed. This would be a conservatism of structure more than doctrine, as suggested by the title of a website that champions its approach: “Where Peter Is.” But it would still need, for its long-term coherence, an account of how doctrine can and cannot change beyond just papal fiat. So it, too, awaits clarifications that this papacy has conspicuously not supplied.

The plain fact is, a pope like Francis was not supposed to happen. Everybody knows that there have been bad popes — most notoriously, the popes of the Renaissance, in particular Alexander VI Borgia — but it has also been the case that however personally corrupt they might have been, they did not change Catholic doctrine. No one argues seriously that Francis is personally corrupt, but there is certainly reason to believe that he is either changing doctrine, either de facto or indirectly, by virtue of changing the disciplines of the Church, and allowing disfavored doctrines to wither on the vine.

RadTrads following in the footsteps of the Protestant Reformers

Defending celibacy

It's striking to see Catholic religious leaders continue to defiantly back and rationalize mandatory clerical celibacy. Bishop Barron is a case in point. One thing I've noticed, although it's just a cursory impression, is that the folks defending clerical celibacy seem to be, for the most part, clerics rather than layman. There's not the same grassroots enthusiasm for the policy. Unless I missed it, most Catholic apologists don't seem to be going to bat on the issue. And it wouldn't be surprising of Catholic fathers and mothers are wary of the policy. They've seen the damage at ground level. 

The paradox of the policy is that the more it fails, the more Catholic leaders defend it. As a rule, policymakers don't feel the need to defend a successful policy. Its success is the selling point. 

The more that Catholic leaders double down and circle the wagons to defend the policy, they more they draw attention to its abject failure. When you pigheadedly hang on to a counterproductive policy, that constantly puts you on the defensive. 

Chick-Fil-A chickens out

The irony of the Chick-Fil-A capitulation is that Chick-Fil-A was under no meaningful pressure to chicken out. When the LGBT thugs went after it the first time around, and Chick-Fil-A stood its ground, it won the standoff. Sticking up to the social justice bullies was good for business. So we have the ironic spectacle of Chick-Fil-A capitulating after it won the confrontation. By caving in now, it has nothing to gain and a lot to lose.

By initially standing its ground, Chick-Fil-A demonstrated the weakness of the LGBT thugs. They only have power when people cede them power. They pick on the weak. When, however, they go after something big and popular, their tactics are ineffectual. 

Popular or powerful companies have a particular civic duty to stand up to social justice bullies because they have the clout to beat the bullies. What's especially craven about the Chick-Fil-A cave-in is to compare that to the courage of a persecuted elderly florist. In contrast to Chick-Fil-A, which had nothing to lose by holding firm, she has everything to lose. The Chick-Fil-A Quislings have betrayed her. They threw her over the back of the sled. 

But as I've said before, we live in a winnowing time. This is a test of faith. And God notices which side people take. On judgement day, there will be a reversal of fortunes. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Milton's flawed masterpiece

1. Milton's Paradise Lost is a flawed masterpiece. Now, when a great artist fails by overreaching, his work may still touch heights of genius that flawless work by a lesser artist can only dream of. But it's interesting to ask what makes a flawed masterpiece flawed? 

2. Part of the problem is the unrelieved heavy style. It becomes oppressive and monotonous. 

3. Then there's the subject matter. The plot operates on two levels: the fall of Adam and the fall of Lucifer. Now Gen 1-3 doesn't provide much material to scale up into an epic poem. Mind you, life in the garden could be fleshed out in some detail, but that doesn't interest Milton. He doesn't seem to have the romantic view of natural scenery. And domesticity isn't his forte.  That demands the lighter touch of a lyric poet rather than an epic poet. Shakespeare or Racine could expand on the relationship of the first couple, but that's not Milton's metier. 

4. Regarding the fall of Adam, Eve is the protagonist while Lucifer is the Tempter. But I doubt that's dramatically satisfying for Milton since they are so ill-matched. There's no contest. Moreover, given Milton's very masculine outlook, a woman is not an adequate protagonist to face off with Lucifer. Indeed, in the original account, the Tempter presumably picked on her because she was more vulnerable. 

But even Adam would be no match for Lucifer. Whether or not Lucifer is smarter than Adam and Eve, he's certainly more sophisticated and experienced. And he enjoys the tactical advantage that they are unsuspecting. 

5. Scripture says even less about the fall of angels than the fall of Adam. However, that gives Milton free rein to fill out the backstory with his own imagination. 

In heaven, the Son is the protagonist while Lucifer is the antagonist. In principle, that's more promising dramatic material. Milton gravitates to larger-then-life figures. And he can flesh it out on heroic scale in a way he can't do with life in the garden.

6. But there's a catch. And that is Milton's low Christology. There are scholarly debates about whether he was a closet Arian (or Socinian). If he was, then that generates tensions in the characterization. 

7. In one respect it simplifies his task. The backstory requires him to assign a motive for the fall of angels. If the Son is merely an eminent creature, like the Archangel Michael, then the celestial civil war is ignited by sibling rivalry. Many angels resent the Father exalting the Son over them because he's not essentially their superior. So, from a dramatic standpoint, that explains their resentment. 

Moreover, it provides dramatic parity between the protagonist and the antagonist. Lucifer and the Son are the same kind of beings. 

8. But if that's the implicit Christological presupposition of the plot, then that comes at a twofold cost. First of all, Milton must conceal his low Christology to garner a favorable reception for his poem. Arianism was a crime. So that leaves an unresolved tension in the characterization–he can't afford to relieve the tension by laying his cards on the table. It's unclear to the reader what exactly the Son is? What's his ontological relationship to the angels? Is he one of them? That would explain why they bristle at his promotion, which comes at the corollary cost of their demotion. But Milton dare not make that explicit, so the crucial psychological dynamic remains fuzzy. 

9. The other dramatic toll this exacts is that if Lucifer and the Son are both creatures, both angels, then this becomes a plot trope about fraternal rivalry, where the father is guilty of favoritism. On the one hand is the good son. The dutiful, submissive, obedient son. And on the other hand is the independent son. The bad boy. 

And in general, the audience finds bad boy characters more appealing than good boy characters. Good boy characters are usually a foil for bad boy characters. The good boy, the loyal son, is insipid, docile, and domesticated–while the bad boy, the rebellious son, is virile and daring. 

It also means that Milton can't help having a sneaky admiration for the character of Lucifer, because Milton himself was so manly. For that reason, the characterization of the Son does not and cannot ignite his dramatic imagination in the same way as the characterization of Lucifer. So that's another point of tension. Not in terms of how the characters relate to each other, but how the poet relates to his characters. 

One might object that that's too anthropomorphic, but if Milton is tacitly operating with a low Christology, then that's not anthropomorphic. Lucifer and the Son are metaphysically two of a kind. 

Keep it real but not too real

Monday, November 18, 2019

Some Reactions To The Chick-Fil-A Situation

- It's early, but it looks to me like Chick-Fil-A is being intentionally ambiguous about much of what's going on. In the stories I've read, I've noticed a suspicious lack of quotations when the alleged comments of Chick-Fil-A representatives are being discussed. I wonder how many of them agreed to talk to the media only if they wouldn't be quoted. That allows them more opportunity to revise their comments, claim that they were misunderstood, etc. We'll see what develops. But the ambiguity so far and the lack of a quick clarification in support of what Chick-Fil-A has traditionally been associated with is telling.

- I don't involve myself in boycotts much. I'm highly selective about them. Even when I participate in one, as I have against Target on transgenderism issues, I don't give much attention to it. It's not a high priority. There are more important things to be occupied with. But I think there's merit in boycotting to some extent, especially in cases that have a lot of potential for optimal impact. My sense at this point, and it's still early, is that boycotting Chick-Fil-A would be a good idea. I don't intend to put a lot of time and effort into figuring out all of the details and trying to maximize the situation, but I'll probably try to avoid supporting Chick-Fil-A in the future to some extent, depending on how the circumstances develop.

- The Salvation Army's response is problematic. They told Bisnow:

"We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population."

By the same reasoning, they're probably also the biggest provider of poverty relief for adulterers and polyamorists. I doubt they'd mention that in a statement to the media, frame it the way they've framed their help for LGBTQ people, and do some equivalent to adding the ridiculous "+" to the end of "LGBTQ". Like Chick-Fil-A and so many others, the Salvation Army is far too defensive. That sort of weakness is part of the reason why they're in such a bad situation. They're digging themselves deeper in the hole.

- There's some merit to helping the poor, supporting educational efforts, and other such activities that Chick-Fil-A, Salvation Army, and others are highlighting in this context, but I want to remind people of something I've said many times before. Poverty is far less of a problem in the world today than it was in Biblical times and even just several decades ago. (See, for example, here and here.) That's largely because of Christianity's positive impact on the world. It's also because of the advancement of technology, medicine, democracy, and capitalism, for example. Rates of poverty have plummeted in recent decades. In many contexts, our standard of living and standards in other parts of the world have gotten much better in recent years. To be as concerned about something like poverty today as the Biblical authors were in their day is irresponsible. It would be like being as concerned as Biblical authors were about diseases that either no longer exist or exist to a much lesser degree. That wouldn't make sense. The fact that disease X was prominent to degree Y during the Biblical era doesn't prove that disease X has the same significance today. The amount of attention that's given to issues like poverty today is inexcusable. Governments, charities, businesses, churches, individuals, etc. are spending oceans upon oceans upon oceans of money and other resources on such issues in the modern world. There's a widespread cultural consensus in many parts of the world that we should be helping the poor, educating people about secular and trivial subjects, improving people's health, and so on. Christians should be more focused on supporting missions, evangelism, apologetics, theology, the study of the paranormal, work on ethical issues, philosophical work, and other such endeavors. The world is overly focused on helping people in physical, short-term ways. Christians should work on benefiting people in a physical and short-term manner to some extent, but we shouldn't follow the world's lead in being as imbalanced as they are on these matters (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

- The biggest problem related to LGBTQ issues isn't with the organizations that promote the LGBTQ movement or organizations that are too accommodating to them, like Chick-Fil-A. It's not with political leaders, pastors, etc. Rather, the biggest problem is with the average person. As in so many other contexts, there's too much of a focus on leaders and not enough focus on laymen. The latter bear far more responsibility for where we are in this culture. LGBTQ organizations wouldn't be as influential as they are, and organizations like Chick-Fil-A and Salvation Army wouldn't be as weak as they are, if the average American (and the average person in many other nations) weren't so corrupt. Even in conservative Evangelical circles, how many people provided objective, verifiable arguments against same-sex marriage when the controversy over that subject was at its height? How many, instead, either stayed silent or just did something like state their view without supporting it or supported it inadequately, such as by merely quoting the Bible? My estimate is that only a small percentage of conservative Evangelicals, probably a single-digit percentage at best, handled the same-sex marriage controversy in anything even close to a responsible manner. The large majority either were silent or spoke up in a highly inadequate way. How many Christians are putting much effort into doing research and reasoning with people in a mature way, whether on LGBTQ matters or other issues? See my article here about the neglect of apologetics and the neglect of intellectual maturity more broadly in modern Christianity. Non-Christians deserve the primary blame for the absurd situation with LGBTQ issues in modern America. But some of the blame also goes to American Christians, who are so intellectually immature, among other problems. That's part of the reason why the Chick-Fil-A story stings them so much. They've been overly focused on such organizations, activities like eating at restaurants are too big a part of their lives, they're overly focused on what their leaders (such as the people running Chick-Fil-A) are doing and not focused enough on their own responsibilities and opportunities, etc.

- There's been a lot of focus on how the LGBTQ movement won't be satisfied with Chick-Fil-A's concession. That's largely true. But don't underestimate how much some people will respond positively, will enjoy seeing Chick-Fil-A compromise, and will want to encourage more of it.


An interesting thing about fences is that when a fence is all you've got to go by, you can't tell if you're on the outside looking in or the inside looking out. I daresay most unbelievers envy the rich and famous. They're on the outside gazing through the gilded fence of Malibu or Bel Air estates, eager to get in. By contrast, believers are in the world, gazing through the chain-link fence separating them from a better world beyond, eager to get out.  

Christmas music

Christian Christmas music

Once in royal David's city

O come, all ye faithful

Hark! the herald angels sing

Ding dong! merrily on high

While shepherds watched

In the Bleak Midwinter

Angels, from the realms of glory

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came

Personent hodie

The First Nowell

In dulci jubilo

O little town of Bethlehem

Away in a Manger

O come, O come, Emmanuel

Quittez, pasteurs

The Infant King

As Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night

The Three Kings

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Handel's Messiah

Bach, Christmas Oratorio
Unitarian Christmas music

White Christmas

Baby It's Cold Outside

Frosty the Snowman

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Jingle Bells

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Here Comes Santa Claus

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

The presence of God

In traditional Catholicism you need the guidance of the magisterium to steer clear of damnable error. The claim is circular since the damnable error is dissenting from Catholic theology.

By contrast, Protestant theologians appealed to the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit as a kind of epistemological shortcut. To Catholic theologians that's an ac hoc appeal, but here's a sophisticated defense:

You also have charismatics who claim to have up-to-the-minute guidance from God. So that's another paradigm, a flawed paradigm, though no less flawed than the Catholic alternative. In addition, "the presence of God" is invoked very loosely in popular and/or folk theology. 

On a different, but related note, some Christians say they've had an unmistakable experience of God's presence. Likewise, some unbelievers say they had the same kind of experience, which was instrumental to their Christian conversion.

Unlike the loose use of the term, this refers to something overwhelming and undeniable for the person who had it. Not a visual or auditory apparition, but nevertheless a powerful, transformative encounter with God. I'm certainly not vouching for every claimant, although I think it's undoubtedly the case that God has manifested himself to some Christians or converts to Christianity in that way.

Now some paradigms I outlined conceive of divine guidance in terms of specific ongoing directives. They view the Christian pilgrimage like a dark, narrow, winding mountain road where drivers can easily veer off on either side and plunge to their death hundreds or thousands of feet below. To make it safely to heaven, you need the road to have street lights at regular intervals. Somewhat parallel to this is the charismatic belief that God gives his people signs on a regular basis. 

The presumption of the traditional Catholic paradigm is that because there are so many different ways to be damned, we need regular up-to-date warnings every step of the way. One swerve and you hurtle down the cliff. 

Of course, Protestants believe God gave us a roadmap in Scripture, and the roadmap doesn't need to be updated every year. 

But in addition to that, suppose a Christian who's at the end of his tether has an unmistakable experience of God's presence. That gives him timely confirmation that he's still on the right path. So he doesn't need to be constantly shown that he's on the right path. Rather, if he strayed, if he was now on the wrong path, he wouldn't have that confirmatory experience.

So that reverses the presumption. You're going in the right direction unless you have a sign that tells you you took a wrong turn. It's not like GPS where you're shown at every juncture which turn to make. You can read a roadmap for yourself. At best, you only need to be warned if you're about to take a wrong turn–or assuming you already got off course, have an indication of how to get back onto the right path. 

Now I'm not suggesting that most Christians experience God in that dramatic fashion. I'm just pointing out that not every Christian has the same experience. God is sovereign. And divine direction can take different forms. Scripture is fundamental. But God guides his people through the providential orchestration of events. And occasionally in more direct, individual forms. A Magisterium isn't the only paradigm. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Do Miracles Happen Today? Dr. Tim McGrew Weighs In

Winger on death of Judas

What is Christmas?

There are standard definitions of conversion. With a focus on the before and after–especially the immediate aftermath (weeks and months following conversion). That's fine as far as it goes. 

But I'd like to discuss it from a different angle. In conversion, God brings us into his life. There are many analogies. 

Take an orphan who's adopted at 5-7. He's had a life of neglect. He knows what it's like to be lonely all the time. 

If he's adopted into a loving home, the adoptive parents take him out of the life he's know up to that point and bring him into their life. In some cases they travel to a far country to pick him up and take him back home to their home, his new home, a real home.He's suddenly exposed to all the things he instinctively longed for but didn't know existed.

Or take an adolescent boy whose home life is a hellhole. Then he's befriend by a classmate with a happy childhood. Up to this point the adolescent boy has only known the ugly side of life. Physical ugliness and especially moral ugliness. Physical and psychological abuse. 

But his friend, who sought him out, introduces him to a different side of life. Shares the goodness of his own life with the classmate. Exposes him to the joy and beauty of life.

Or take two well-adjusted teenagers who become friends. They have complementary interests. Each friend takes the other friend into his own life. Suppose one boy has an interest in science fiction novels. His friend isn't familiar with that, but enjoys it once his friend shares it with him. Suppose the other boy has an interest in a genre of music he's friend isn't familiar with, but enjoys that once his friend shares it with him. 

Another cliche is a couple to get married and make a life together. Some of these examples are like conversion. 

Which brings me to the title of the post. In Christmas Eve sermons it's typical for the preacher to say God came into our world as a child. And that's true enough.

But there's a neglected truth–in the opposite direction. At Christmas, God is coming into our world to bring us into his world. God shares his life with us. That's the meeting-point where God takes us out of our world into his world. 


in my "Color-coded Bible," a friend pointed out that I left out my name at one point, making it look like Lydia was still speaking. It materially changes the sense. I've gone back an edited the post. I pick up here:

To generalize, presuppers have a more theological orientation whereas evidentialists have a more historical orientation. By that I mean, evidentialists approach the Bible as historians–in contrast to presuppers who approach the Bible as a religious document (as well as a historical document), so that, as a matter of principle, presuppers treat Christian theology and Bible narratives as a unit–rather than an assemblage of separable parts, to be individually reaffirmed or discarded. (Which doesn't mean presuppers, or at least the most intelligent representatives, are unconcerned with the value of corroborative evidence, where available.)

Bound for the Promised Land

Brian woke up in the E.R. He didn't remember how he got there or why he was there. He did have a headache. 

Turned out he suffered a concussion at the football game. This was the first time he regained consciousness since the accident. Other than the headache he was quite lucid. 

His parents and younger brother Bobby were at his bedside, relieved to see him come to. Yet they weren't as happy as he expected them to be. They seemed to be hiding something.

A few minutes later the neurologist came in. He began by telling Brian that the concussion probably did no permanent damage. But Brian sensed another shoe was waiting to drop. 

The brain scan revealed an unsuspected aneurism. It may have been there for years. And the location made it inoperable. 

Brian was confused. At first he didn't register the significance of the finding. So the neurologist explained to him as gently as he could that this meant Brian could die at anytime. He was very unlikely to have a normal lifespan. He'd probably die sooner rather than later. 

It's like the hospital room suddenly went dark. The news robbed Brian of his future. All his youthful dreams snatched away. 

He counted on having a normal life. Marry his high school sweetheart. Have kids. Coach football.

But now he couldn't plan long term. How could he risk having kids if he wouldn't live to see them to adulthood? How was that fair to them? 

He didn't tell Coach about the aneurism. That enabled him to finish out the football season. Playing football with the brain aneurism was risky, but what did he have to lose? He was going to die young, anyway. 

But after that he dropped out of school. Became increasingly bitter, angry, and alienated. He had nothing to live for. Nothing to look forward to. He was just waiting for the time-bomb in his head to detonate. 

He was sullen with his parents and his kid brother. He broke off old friendships. Broke up with his girlfriend. Spent hours a day walking alone on wooded trails, brooding. Or sitting by the pond, brooding. 

He had a therapist for counseling, but the therapist could do nothing to change the situation. He didn't need happy talk bromides.

But after months of feeling sorry for himself, and not without justification, he decided that was a dumb way to spend his remaining time. If he was doomed, shouldn't he make the most of whatever time he had left rather than squandering it? Rage was pointless. 

But even though he knew what he was doing was a waste of time, he had no constructive alternative. Then he remembered the Bible a girl at school had given him. She was always witnessing to other students. Everyone made fun of her behind her back or to her face. She took it bravely, but it hurt.

He had tossed the Bible in his locker, buried under muddy sneakers. Now he took it home and began to read. And read. And read. He drank it in. He warmed up to his kid brother, which was timely because since Bobby was going through a really rough stretch and desperately needed Brian's support. 

And watching Brian engrossed in the Bible, as they sat side-by-side on the bed, made Bobby curious, since he was into whatever his big brother was into. So he started reading the Bible, too. 

Their parents were irreligious and didn't quite approve of Brian getting religion, or infecting Bobby with the virus. But they preferred Brian this way to the sullen, disaffected Brian. 

Over the next few years, Brian coached younger boys from fatherless homes. And it gave him a chance to share his discovery with them. Some weren't ready for it, but he was sowing seed.

One day Bobby went over to Brian's apartment. Went inside. It was silent. Went into the bedroom to find Brian's lifeless body upright on the bed, with a Bible in his lap. Brian dead at 23. 

Scoring virtue points

An exchange I had with Michael Bird on Facebook regarding his article:

Steve Hays
Michael's article is unintentionally comical. He fails to take into account his own cultural conditioning. He acts like the viewpoint of an Australian evangelical is the clear lens while the viewpoint of American evangelicals is the tinted lens. But why privilege an Australian evangelical perspective on American evangelicalism? What makes that more objective than American evangelical perspectives on Australian evangelicalism? Moreover, the same culture wars are duplicated in Australia. Bird himself is an outspoken politically active culture warrior. He thinks Jesus is on his side. So the whole analysis is an exercise in Michael talking to his own reflection in the bathroom mirror.

Michael Bird 
Steve, whoa. (1) I have no pretentions to viewing myself as some kind of political Switzerland, I do have my own political convictions, but I do not presume that they are the same as Jesus. I aspire to have a Jesus-kingdom to have a view! (2) My point is not "Pfft, American dumb asses." Rather it is more like Robert Froster, "Try to see yourself as others see you." (3) I would say that Australia does not have the same culture wars as America, e.g. everyone here believes in gun control and universal healthcare. As for me being a "culture warrior." I wouldn't say that, though I have written actively on social issues relating to the need for gambling reform and religious liberty in the face of bad government policy. Blessings. Mike Bird

Steve Hays 
i) Some social issues are political issues because social ethics spills over into law and public policy. That in turn is represented in the American 2-party system. So we can either vote for viable political candidates or we can sit out the election. But boycotting the electoral process has consequences, too.

ii) "Try to see yourself as others see you". 

I'm waiting for you to take your own advice. Your application of that adage is always one-sided: how Americans should see themselves through the eyes of an Australian chauvinist who constantly scores virtue points with his own peer group by badmouthin American society, domestic policy, and foreign policy. 

Since you brought it up, I'm struck by how many non-American elites are obsessed with the so-called American "gun culture". You are aware, are you not, that most of the gun violence in America is concentrated in a few large urban centers. 

Recently you noted that Detroit resembles a war zone. You are aware, are you not, that Detroit has been dominated by the Democrat establishment for decades.

Australian gun control. Do you think that's a constructive alternative to the American "gun culture"? From what I've read, Australian private citizens have been stripped of the ability to practice self-defense. Not only have they been disarmed with respect to handguns, but knives and even pepper spray. But they are allowed to carry whistles! 

Or what about London, with its epidemic of knifings and acid attacks. According to Peter Hitchens, the police don't patrol the streets to crack down on crime. Instead, they hide out in their stations, patrolling social media for perceived "hate speech". They don't protect the public, and they don't allow the public to protect themselves. But anything is better than the American "gun culture," right? 

What about Venezuelan security forces mowing down unarmed protesters. 

What about Hong Kong security forces (stooges of mainland Red China) attacking unarmed Protesters?

What about immigrant Muslim rape gangs assaulting unarmed women in Germany while the police either look the other way or cover for the rape gangs?

But anything is better than the American "gun culture," right?

The Trinity in relief

There's a simple reason why the Trinity lies in the background of the OT but the foreground of the NT. That's because salvation is Trinitarian. The Atonement is Trinitarian. It unites the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Son doesn't die for people at random. Rather, he consented to become Incarnate, become the Savior, on condition that his redemptive death would secure the salvation of all those the Father gave him (Jn 6,10,17). Likewise, the Father adopts and justifies the redeemed. So the Father and Son work in tandem. Likewise, the Spirit renews and preserves all those whom the Son redeems. So the Son and Spirit work in tandem. 

It was therefore inevitable that the Trinity would come into relief when the Atonement came into relief. The OT was preparatory, but when the Atonement is actually implemented, the three players will come to the fore.