Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sacred Harp tune "Abernethy"

I wrote this tune in early December 2014 and named it in honor of F. E. Abernethy, for the work he did in writing about and recording information about Sacred Harp in East Texas. It has (1.3) because this is the third iteration. I originally wrote it in 3/2 time and changed it to 4/4 to make it a little more "folksy". I also made a few minor changes in the harmony based on some suggestions by others.

Death of F. E. Abernethy

Francis Edward "Ab" Abernethy died Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Nacogdoches. Dr. Abernethy was a folklorist and not strictly a Sacred Harp singer. But he was a friend of Sacred Harp whose work in the field of folklore brought him in contact with it, and whose writings preserved some of our history. He is the author of Singin' Texas (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1994). He wrote the chapter on "Anglo-Texan Spirituals" in Tell Me a Story, Sing Me a Song: a Texas Chronicle, in which he preserves information about mostly forgotten singing near Austonio, Texas. He wrote "Singing All Day & Dinner on the Grounds" in Observations and Reflections on Texas Folklore, scenes from his visit to an East Texas Convention at Harris Chapel (probably in the late 1960s). Abernethy wrote the article on at Handbook of Texas Online.

If I remember correctly, Dr. Abernethy was one of the organizers of the 'Sacred Harp Preservation Symposium' held at Stephen F. Austin State Iniversity in 1994. Some of his other activities include a Professor at SFASU, a member of the East Texas String Ensemble, President of the Texas Folklore Society, Secretary-Editor of the Texas Folklore Society for thirty-two years, and an active member of the East Texas Historical Association.

I have a letter from Dr. Abernethy in which he wished to remembered in a memorial lesson by Sacred Harp singers. I wanted to find it and quote him -- but if I wait that long I may never post this! I can't find it, but I know I didn't throw it away. At least maybe the first sentence in this paragraph captures the gist of what he wrote.

Here is a short quote from his chapter "Singing All Day & Dinner on the Grounds": "Compared to Sacred Harp, First Church music is water to wine."

A memorial service for Dr. Abernethy will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2015, at Banita Creek Hall in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Generation and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

The Tie Salesman

A fleeing Taliban terrorist, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the mirage, only to find a very frail old Jewish man standing at a small makeshift display rack - selling ties.

The Taliban terrorist asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

The Talibani shouted hysterically, "Idiot Infidel! I do not need such an over-priced western adornment. I spit on your ties. I need water!"

"Sorry, I have none, just ties - pure silk, and only $5."

"Phh! A curse on your ties! I would wrap one around your scrawny little neck and choke the life out of you but . . . I must conserve my energy and find water!"

"Okay," said the little old Jewish man. "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie from me or that you hate me, threaten my life, and call me infidel. I will show you that I am bigger than any of that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a restaurant. It has fine food and all the ice-cold water you need. Go In Peace."

Cursing him again, the desperate Taliban terrorist staggered away, over the hill.

Several hours later, he came crawling back, almost dead, and gasped, "They won't let me in without a tie!"

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Complimentary quotes

"Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow." -- (often identified as a) Swedish Proverb; other versions include: 
"A joy shared is twice a joy, and a burden shared is half a burden." 
"A joy shared is doubled; a sorrow shared is cut in half." 
"A sorrow shared is but half a trouble, but a joy that's shared is a joy made double." 

The tongue and the heart
"The tongue is the heart's messenger." -- Thomas Adams 
"We need to think of our tongue as a messenger that runs errands for our heart." -- Chuck Swindoll "The tongue is a messenger that runs the errands of the heart." -- Unknown, maybe slightly misquoting Swindoll and Adams

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Baptist Autographs, and other reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Too often, we make prayer showy, shallow and self-centered. It ought to be simple, sincere and spiritual. Here are some things people have said about prayer that you might enjoy and find helpful.

"In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart." -- John Bunyan

"We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all." -- Oswald Chambers

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" -- Corrie ten Boom

"I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." -- Martin Luther

"God can pick sense out of a confused prayer." -- Richard Sibbes

"When at night you cannot sleep,
Talk to the Shepherd and stop counting sheep." (Author unknown)

"Saying one's prayers isn't exactly the same thing as praying." -- Lucy M. Montgomery (in Anne of Green Gables

"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast." (James Montgomery)

Lord, teach us to pray.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Surprised by Joy

By William Wordsworth

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee?—Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Source: Poems (1815)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Adams' Apples of Gold

"It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation." -- John Adams

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Gay Community, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.


Brobdingnagian   \ brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn \ ,  an adjective meaning "of huge size; gigantic; tremendous."

"Brobdingnagian  entered English in the mid-1700s by way of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels , in which Brobdingnag is the name of a region where everything is of enormous size."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Normal life and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

Doc Holliday to Wyatt Earp in Tombstone: "There's no normal life, Wyatt, it's just life. Get on with it."

"The man who knows himself least is likely to have a cheerful if groundless confidence in his own moral worth." -- A. W. Tozer

"Is it not true that we can see the work of GOD in others more easily than we can see the same in ourselves? If this were not so we would soon be lifted up and destroyed in our pride. That man who rejoices and speaks constantly of the work of the SPIRIT in himself is probably devoid of the same." -- Mike McInnis

"Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late." -- Benjamin Franklin 

"He who laughs, lasts!" -- (published by) Mary Pettibone Poole (though perhaps from an earlier source)

"Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due." -- often attributed to William Ralph Inge, but has been found to predate his saying it

"If you want to change the public's perceptions of this or that, attack their understanding of history and revise it. Most people today are so ignorant of history (and so unwilling to study it for themselves) that they will take your word for it and revise their views." -- Robert Hughes

"Truth is the same through all generations." -- Tom Fillinger

Helvetica and Times New Roman walk into a bar.
"Get out of here!" shouts the bartender. "We don't serve your type."

Sacred Harp Book Company web site

The Sacred Harp Book Company now has a web site. The web site can be found HERE. From the "store" page you can order The Sacred Harp, 2012 Revised Cooper Edition per each or by the case (20). It's pretty basic, but it is a new convenience for ordering online that was not previously available.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Christ's human nature

"What is Christ's human nature? That is the rock on which many gallant ships have struck. It is not a person, having a distinct existence apart from the Deity of Christ; but it is a nature: what the Holy Ghost calls a "Holy Thing" (Luke 1:35); "a body that God had prepared for him" (Heb. 10:5), taken into intimate, mysterious, and inexplicable union with the Person of the Son of God. So that, whatever that human nature did and suffered, from its intimacy and union with the Son of God, the Son of God did and suffered." -- J. C. Philpot

"Mr. Philpot used the correct terminology in describing this union when he said it was an “inexplicable union”.  We often spend too much time trying to explain the unexplainable and simply wind up where Job did, with our mouths closed in wondrous amazement." -- Mike McInnis

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jonquil Festival Singing in Arkansas

Last year we had our first Sacred Harp Singing in Washington, Arkansas. The singing was a reintroduction of Sacred Harp to this area. This Sunday, March 22, 2015, we will meet for the "second annual" singing. The singing is at the Washington State Park's conclusion of the Jonquil Festival, and will be held in the historic Washington Methodist Church. The church building is on Hwy 195, just off U.S. Hwy 278. We will begin at 3:30 p.m. and sing till about 5:30. Please join us.

The Best Chinese Food Restaurant in Texas

In the online article The Best Chinese Food Restaurant in Every State, Yahoo Editor Jeff O'Heir tells us that the best Chinese food in state of Texas is found at the Chicken Lollypop in Austin. Chicken Lollypop is located at 1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753. O'Heir notes us that you initially find yourself in East Braker Lane Food Mart and that the restaurant is toward the back of the store. Phone is (512) 909-9826.
The "best" rating in this piece comes through Yelp. It is based on "the number of stars and amount of reviews each restaurant received from Yelpers. The higher the combined number, the better the ranking." (For the Chicken Lollypop it was 4.5 stars and 208 reviews.) I hope to give it a try the next time I’m in Austin.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ink is handicapped, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries." -- Christopher Morley

"Western Christianity never looks more lavish, or less like Jesus, than when its leaders are embroiled in scandal." -- Joel Rainey 

"If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then [when almost all used the KJV], people were more likely to notice because there was only one text. Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not." -- Douglas Jacobsen

"We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible's values and morals really are." -- Sidnie White Crawford

"Everyone in this room is in favor of marriage equality. We all want the law to treat all marriages equally. But the only way we can know whether any state law is treating marriages equally is if we know what a marriage is. Every state law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn’t a marriage. If those lines are to be drawn on principle, if those lines are to reflect the truth, we have to know what sort of relationship is marital, as contrasted with other forms of consenting adult relationships." --  Ryan T. Anderson

"Overprotected from the real world, these unfortunate children are immersed in an unreal world where boys cannot be boys, and girls cannot be girls. All must be safe and sterile. Every physical risk is avoided while every moral danger is embraced and marked by an intolerable tolerance." -- John Horvat

Variations on a theme
"Jesus is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be pondered." -- Unknown
"Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived." -- J. J. van der Leeuw
"Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved." -- Søren Kierkegaard

Variations on a theme 2
"You are more wicked and sinful than ever imagined…But in Christ you are more accepted than you could have hoped." -- Tim Keller
"I am more flawed and sinful than I ever dared believe, but I am even more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope." -- Tim Keller in How Can I Know God?
"We are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time." -- Tim Keller in Paul's Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel

Mirror, mirror

"The Scriptures are compared to a mirror, or looking-glass. But light must shine upon the glass. Of what use is a looking-glass in a dark night? It reflects no image; it presents to you no likeness; you discern not your features therein; it might be nothing else but a naked board, as far as any reflection it gives of your face. But let light come into the room, or let the sun rise and shine upon it, and your countenance is reflected therein. So with the word of God; it is utterly ineffectual until the Spirit shines upon it; and when he shines upon it, he casts at the same time a ray of light into your heart; and as he shines with this twofold ray, first upon the word, and then into your soul, he reflects from the word your very image, and you see yourself just as you are, clearly portrayed." -- J. C. Philpot

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why Johnny can't sled, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Haters gonna hate

"Who doesn’t love Cinderella? Millions, it turns out." Though millions have loved and learned from the fairy tale Cinderella, many find fault with it themes, or supposed ones -- "girls are taught to be pushovers, do all the housework and that their problems will disappear if they’re hot enough to land a rich husband;" "her Fairy Godmother...waited years to improve Cinderella’s life in any way, instead of helping her out when her parents died, or when her step family forced her into slavery;" "Depicting a female who appears utterly helpless until a male swoops in and rescues her from all of her troubles sends a troubling message;” "It’s much healthier for girls to recognize their own problem-solving skills, rather than look to boys as the solution."
The origins of the Cinderella story as we know it appear in the French fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault in 1697 (and the brothers Grimm probably have a hand in it somewhere). It is a "persecuted heroine" theme, in which the heroine finds happiness after years of abuse and neglect. No use hating on that. However it happens, isn’t it a good thing to find happiness and success after years of problems or abuse?
Dolce and Gabbana
Being homosexual and a former couple did not spare fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana from the vitriol for not toeing the party line. They spoke against artificial insemination and for the traditional family as one thing that "must not be changed." Afterward, a cacophony of celebrities lashed out against the two in familiar fashion -- from boycotting their designs to burning them. Gabbana said of singer Elton John, "You preach understanding. You preach tolerance. And then you put the knife in? All because someone else doesn’t see things your way?"
I kinda hate to keep plucking this same string. But others such as Dolce and Gabbana also notice that those who most vociferously preach tolerance often don't have much tolerance for those who don't see things their way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PCUSA and same-sex marriage

“Presbyterians approve gay marriage” is a top headline this morning. It is an imprecise and misleading headline. One Presbyterian denomination, the PCUSA (yes, it is the largest one) approved calling marriage a contract “between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” No doubt this is considered a significant victory by the LGBT community, but it does not equal Presbyterians approving of homosexual marriage. First, it represents that the majority of presbyteries in one Presbyterian denomination -- 86 of 171 -- approved the change. It remains to be seen how many of the 85 others will approve or disapprove.  Second, the effect of the decision is that PCUSA clergy can perform same-sex marriages in U.S. states where they are legal. It does not compel them to do so. Third, this decision may lead to a split within the denomination. Fourth, the PCUSA, though the largest single Presbyterian group, is only one of over 30-something Presbyterian denominations in the United States.
The PCUSA has over 1.7 million members, but is in numerical decline. According to the Washington Post article, the church “has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992,” and some sources say 50 percent since the mid-1970s. In contrast the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America, now with about 400,000 members, has experienced steady growth since it was founded in 1973. (In fairness to the PCUSA, many "mainline" American churches are in decline whether conservative or liberal.)

A question of understanding

According to Fox17 in West Michigan, there is a Zeeland pastor under fire for comparing gays to axe murderers. They report, "A pastor from First Baptist Church of Zeeland is making waves online following a recent sermon he gave where he compared being gay to being an axe murderer."

Here is what the pastor said:
“For instance, on a completely other playing field, if tomorrow I woke up because I’ve got this internal compass that’s telling me what truth is, tomorrow if I wake up say… well I think I’m an axe murderer and now I’m an axe murderer, would you be happy with that? Would you agree, would you want me to follow that internal compass?”
The reporting is poorly done and reactions are either angry, not well thought out or deliberately slanderous -- probably some mix of all three. Perhaps the pastor's analogy is not well chosen, but the point is not that homosexuals are ax murderers (or that they are even compared to them). People seem unable to follow an explanation used to illustrate a singular point. The point is about how we arrive at truth. He points out that none of us would find it acceptable to let our "internal compass" guide us to the "truth" that being an ax murderer is acceptable. Yet in many other cases our "internal compass" is exactly how we acceptably arrive at truth. It doesn't have to be about homosexuality. It could be the husband who wakes up one morning and "discovers" he no longer loves his wife and wants to divorce her and abandon his children. Should he follow his internal compass? Regardless of what you think is right or wrong, the discussion is about how we arrive at that point. For Christians, it is biblical instruction that should settle the matter and trump how we feel. First Baptist of Zeeland puts it this way in their media release: "In regard to human sexuality, God’s word is clear. God, through His design and clear prescription in his holy Word, instituted marriage between one man and one woman...Sexual behavior outside of monogamous marriage is contrary to God’s design and is therefore sin." Their point is not that homosexuals are ax murderers, but that people don't have a right to follow their inner compasses on already determined morality. Again, if you don't agree on the morality or the authority behind it -- so be it. But switch off the spin machine and deal with the point. 

The entire sermon may be listened to at First Baptist Church Sermons. The one under debate in the report is the March 1 sermon on "Marriage and Sexuality." 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Serial marriage and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"Serial marriage is far more damaging to church and culture than gay marriage. We’ve just made our peace with the former and have turned our indignation and condemnation to the latter, partly because those involved aren’t our folks anyway." -- Someone named William at SBC Voices

"When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there." -- Author unknown, quoted online by Jack Fenlon

"A guest preacher was speaking at my church some years ago. He began to name those issues upon which 21st century believers must take a stand in the present and immediate future: he listed personal integrity in money issues (including tax reporting), lying, adultery, failure to love each other…..with not a sound from the large congregation. He then mentioned homosexuality, and the congregation broke into loud “Amens” and stood clapping to their feet." -- Someone named Richard at SBC Voices

"Where there is life, there is hope." -- Unknown (lots of people)

"Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I’ll remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand." -- copied

"Those who wait until the eleventh hour to repent often die at ten thirty." -- Unknown

"For every man it is either Christ or eternal tragedy!" -- A. W. Tozer

"The New Testament church grew when Christians were in the minority, not the majority." -- Rachel Held Evans

"Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a god who knew the way out of the grave." -- G. K. Chesterton in The Everlasting Man

The apple tree, the apple tree

In Things the Bible Doesn’t Say (But You Thought It Did), Notre Dame professor Candida Moss wrote, "Most people grow up learning that Eve took an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, gave it to Adam, leading to the ejection of humanity from the Garden of Eden. But there’s no apple in the Garden—there’s only a piece of fruit. The interpretation that it’s an apple sneaks in in the King James Version of the Bible."

Moss may have a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale, but I'm not too sure about her English comprehension. I've been reading the King James since I've been able to read the Bible, and never heard tell of such. Just to be sure, I ran several searches for the word "apple" in the KJV. I found "apple" or "apples" in 11 instances in the King James Bible -- none of which have any reference to Eve or Adam in the garden of Eden. There is no mention of the fruit that Adam and Eve ate being an apple found in the book of Genesis or any other place in the Bible (in any Bible versions I've examined). I wrote to ask her where she found this, but Moss didn't deign to answer. So...

After spending a good deal of time twiddling around online, I found something at Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange ("question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts"). According to a comment there, the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible refers to "an early mistaken identification of the tree of Song of S. 8:5 with the story." I don't have Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, so I can't verify the statement or know whether it pointed to a specific instance (it was not quoted as if it did). But, curiously, I could not find any commentaries that make such an identification of the fruit. At any rate, Moss is wrong that the idea that the "forbidden fruit" as "an apple sneaks in in the King James Version of the Bible." It may have "snuck in" to someone's opinion about the Bible, but it is not in the Bible itself.

I did find 3 interesting suggestions for the source of the tradition among some Christians that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was an apple tree.

The Latin language and a possible pun

The Latin word for evil is malum and the Latin word for apple is also malum. The words mali/malum are found in the Vulgate in Genesis 2 and 3 references to "good and evil" (boni et mali/bonum et malum). Compare to Song of Solomon 2:3 (sicut malum inter ligna silvarum). [Vulgate] If this is true, we would not expect to find any "early" (i.e. Hebrew) examples of this tradition regarding the apple, but post-Vulgate. In the Hebrew language the words for "evil" and "apple" are not closely related.

The generic meaning of apple in Old English

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "the Old English æppel apple [means] any kind of fruit; fruit in general" and in "Middle English and as late as 17c., it was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts..." (Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper). It would then have been natural for English speakers of this period to refer to the "apple" generically in writing or speaking of the fruit in Genesis 2 and 3, and this could have been passed down. If the association began here, we we would not expect to find examples of the idea in other languages, but simply in English.

The use of "apple" by John Milton

The first edition of John Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost" was published in 1667. It is about the biblical story of the fall of man, and refers to the "apple" in a couple of places.

For example, in 10.482-493:

Long had foretold, a fabric wonderful
Of absolute perfection. Therein man
Placed in a Paradise, by our exile
Made happy: Him by fraud I have seduced
From his Creator; and, the more to increase
Your wonder, with an apple; he, thereat
Offended, worth your laughter, hath given up
Both his beloved Man, and all his world,
To Sin and Death a prey, and so to us,
Without our hazard, labor, or alarm;
To range in, and to dwell, and over man
To rule, as over all he should have ruled.

Milton's poem could have been responsible for popularizing the connection of the apple with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even so, in 1667 he may have been using it in the more generic sense as opposed to actually meaning the apple as we know it -- Malus domestica.

In fine, if one means "apple" in an Old English sense of fruit generically then that is correct, but likely will be misunderstood. Most moderns think of something much more specific when they read or hear the word "apple". The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had real edible fruit, but it was not an apple (Malus domestica). Each tree God created bore fruit after its own kind (Genesis 1:12) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had its own fruit.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Philpot on Practical atheists

"...practical atheists we daily prove ourselves to be. For instance, we profess to believe that God sees everything, and yet we are plotting and planning as though he saw nothing; we profess to know that God can do everything, and yet we are always cutting out schemes, and carving out contrivances, as though he were like the gods of the heathen, looking on and taking no notice; we profess to believe that God is everywhere present to relieve every difficulty and bring his people out of every trial, and yet when we get into the difficulty and into the trial, we speak, think, and act as though there were no such omnipresent God, who knows the circumstances of the case, and can stretch forth his hand to bring us out of it." -- J. C. Philpot

Soviet-style crackdown, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Spirit of Christianity

"There are people who say they wish Christianity to remain as a spirit. They mean, very literally, that they wish it to remain as a ghost. But it is not going to remain as a ghost. What follows this process of apparent death is not the lingering of the shade; it is the resurrection of the body. These people are quite prepared to shed pious and reverential tears over the Sepulchre of the Son of Man; what they are not prepared for is the Son of God walking once more upon the hills of morning." -- G. K. Chesterton in The Everlasting Man

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A priest, a rabbi and a minister

A priest, a rabbi and a minister decide to see who is best at his job. Converting people could sometimes be difficult, but the new challenge is to go into the woods, find a bear and try to convert it. They would meet in a coffee shop the next week and each tell his story.

The priest goes out into the wilderness and finds a bear. He reads from the catechism and the bear begins to slap him around. Quickly the priest grabs his holy water, sprinkles him with it while saying Hail Marys. The bear becomes as gentle as a lamb.

The pastor also goes out in the wilderness and finds a bear. He waves his Bible in the air and starts preaching to it. The bear grabs the pastor and they wrestle down the hill into a creek. Thinking fast, the pastor dunks the bear under the water and baptizes him in the name of Jesus- and he becomes as gentle as a lamb.

The priest and the pastor meet at the coffee shop to discuss their experiences. The rabbi doesn't show up. The priest tells his story proudly, noting that next week will be the bear's First Communion. The pastor also relates his tale, asserting they have diversified their membership down at the First Church. They then wonder out loud why the rabbi hasn't shown up. The barista tells them that she heard he is in the hospital.

The priest and the pastor hurry to the hospital to find their friend. When they reach his room, to their horror they find him bandaged from head to toe, and missing one arm. "What happened to you?" they inquire breathlessly.

After a few minutes of silence the rabbi spoke. "Well," he said, "Looking back on it, maybe I shouldn't have started with the circumcision!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

More "heaven tourism"

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

A Home in Heaven

I heard the following letter referenced on the radio this morning, and was impressed by it. The circumstances of the letter are this. John Todd was born in Rutland, Vermont, October 9, 1800. His parents afterward moved to Killingworth, Connecticut. When he was only six years old his father died. His mother, suffering from mental illness, was unable to care for the seven children. John went to live in North Killingworth with his father's youngest sister, Matilda Hamilton. When his aunt became seriously ill and expected to die, she wrote her nephew John -- now a Congregationalist minister -- about death. Below is the reply that John Todd sent his aunt Matilda Hamilton.
MY DEAR AUNT,--I am sorry to hear that you are feeble, perhaps I should say sick, and even that there is fear on your part that you are not to be better in this world. I am afraid that I shall make but a poor comforter in these circumstances, and yet I know there are waters enough in the wells of salvation, if I only knew how to draw them up. You send me word that you would be glad to see me, and, if possible, I shall come; but I am so situated by sicknesses that it may not be in my power. You also tell me that your life looks barren and dreary, and that you tremble at the coming of death. I am not going to try to cheer you by telling what you have done for the Master during your past life. But I want you to recall once circumstance, for the sake of illustrating what I want to say.
You remember that it is now thirty-five years since my father died, and left me, a little boy six years old, without a mother, without a home, and with nobody to care for me. It was then that you sent me word that you would take me and give me a home, and be as a mother to me. Everybody said, 'It's very kind in her to do that.' But I was too young to realize anything of that nature. It seemed to me a perfectly natural thing that you should do so. I wondered what kind of a house you lived in, and whether you had chickens and hens. At length the day was set when I was to go to you, ten miles off. What a long journey it seemed to me! And I well remember how disappointed I was that, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent old Caesar, the great, fat, black man to bring me to you. How my heart sunk within me when he came, and I was told that I was to ride on the horse behind him, sitting on the blanket! But he told me that 'old Kate was very gentle to little boys,' and that you said I might bring Echo, my little dog, with me. So we set out, just before night. Caesar took my bundle of clothing before him, and me behind him, and Echo ran beside us. But before long, before we got to your house, I began to feel tired. My legs ached, and I was tired of taking hold of Caesar. By-and-by the evening and the darkness came on, and I felt afraid; then we had a long piece of woods to go through. I had heard of bears and tigers and Indians, and did not know how many might be in the woods. Caesar, too, was so dark that I could not see him, and he jogged on without saying a word. He had no idea that I was afraid.
'Caesar, ain't we most there?' said I, in my terror.
'Yes, when we have got through these woods we shall see the candle in the house.' 
'Won't they be gone to bed? for it seemed to me it must be nearly morning. 
'Oh, no, they will be all ready to receive us.' 
But I trembled, and the tears ran down my face, and I wondered why I could not have somebody with me besides black Caesar.
But at last, after winding and turning, and going uphill and downhill, a long, long way, as it seemed to me, we came out of the woods, and then the stars shone; and I was told which light was in your house. And when we got there you came out, and gently took me in your arms as Caesar handed me down; and you called me your 'poor little boy,' and you led me gently in; and there was a blazing, warm fire, the bright light, and the table spread, and the supper all waiting for me! And that was my home! My eyes now fill with tears as I think it over. How you soothed me, and warmed me, and put me to bed in the strange room, and heard me say my prayers, and staid with me till I was fast asleep.
And now, my dear aunt, you see why I have recalled all this to your memory. Your heavenly Father will send for you--a dark messenger, it may be. And he will be your conductor, and carry you safely through the darkness of the way. He will not drop nor leave you, for he is a faithful servant. You need not feel afraid, for he knows the way, and will take you directly to your home. There the door will be open, and your dearest friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, will meet you and take you in, and the supper will be waiting, and the fires of love burning, and the light and glory of his presence all seen. What a welcome you will receive! And, perhaps, the memory of what you did for me will come back upon you, bringing waves of pure joy. At any rate, don't fear the dark passage, nor the dark messenger. Receive it all as the little child did, and you will find the home. My prayers will be for you till you are out of sight, and then I will look forward to meeting you again.
Ever, ever yours, most gratefully,JOHN TODD.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints” 
Psalm 116:15

Note: I have seen several versions of "this letter" online, but the above is transcribed as recorded in John Todd: The Story of His Life Told Mainly by Himself (Edited by John E. Todd, New York, NY: Harper & Brothers: 1876 pp. 35-37). Some versions give evidence of simply being told from memory by someone else, and some may have been attempts to edit out certain comments and downsize the letter for effect. I have chosen to post what I believe to be the original endorsed by Todd himself.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wilson's words

"If those who hate the Word of God can succeed in getting Christians to be embarrassed by any portion of the Word of God, then that portion will continually be employed as a battering ram against the godly principles that are currently under attack." -- Douglas Wilson

"Using the Bible as a grab bag from which to pick and choose the texts we find acceptable is hardly a scriptural worldview." -- Douglas Wilson

"We wrote as Christian apologists, but not the kind who apologize for being Christians." -- Douglas Wilson

Curiouser and curiouser

On the LGBT front, things just get curiouser and curiouser. CNN tells us that Planet Fitness revokes woman's membership after transgender complaint.

Yvette Cormier "went to the front desk after someone who looked like a 'man' entered the women's locker room while she was changing." The person at the front desk, rather than react like some of us might except, told Cormier that they had "no-judgment" policy. She warned others about this problem and in the end lost her own Planet Fitness membership. Planet Fitness allows people to choose which changing room they prefer -- based on "their sincere, self-reported gender identity." Any man who reports to the front desk that he would prefer to be a woman may use the women's dressing facilities? Apparently so! Now all the "Peeping Toms" know the policy as well.

McCall Gosselin, director of public relations at Planet Fitness's corporate office, claims, "Planet Fitness is committed to creating a nonintimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity nondiscrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity."

So much for a non-intimidating environment for Yvette Cormier.

Stop the insanity!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Happy couples and other marriage quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"I know some very happy couples who met through dating sites. A few are even married, to each other." -- Froma Harrop

"It is common for spouses to be attracted to other people—usually of the opposite sex, but sometimes of the same sex. Spouses who value their marriages do not act on those impulses." -- Janna Darnelle

"If sexual complementarity is optional for marriage, then almost every other norm that sets marriage apart is optional." -- Ryan T. Anderson

" based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that each child needs both a mother and a father." -- Ryan T. Anderson

"If marriage were just intense emotional regard, marital norms would make no sense as a principled matter. There is no reason of principle that requires an emotional union to be permanent. Or limited to two persons. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive (as opposed to “open”). Or inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands." -- Ryan T. Anderson

"A good marriage...depends on choosing to love, honor, and be faithful to one person, forsaking all others." -- Janna Darnelle

"A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day." -- Andre Maurois

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." -- Mignon McLaughlin

"We should be experts on our spouses’ strengths and not only their weaknesses." -- copied

"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to." -- J. R. R. Tolkien

To make a happy fire-side clime
To weans and wife,
That's the true pathos and sublime
Of human life.
--Robert Burns

Joy and Peace in Believing

Hymns, XLVIII. Joy and Peace in Believing. (Meter 7s.6s.D.)

1. Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

2. In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say—
E’en let the unknown morrow
Bring with it what it may.

3. It can bring with it nothing,
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing,
Will clothe His people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And He, who feeds the ravens,
Will give His children bread.

4. Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear;
Though all the fields should wither
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice,
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

From Olney Hymns (1779) by William Cowper.