Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Gift After My Own Heart

I love the wrapping paper and the bows.

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

Clifford over at Red Stick Rant has challenged me to top a video he found. At first I thought I might use this one. Then I thought I might get historical. But time and a cooler head have led me to use the one shown. The video is very much Not Safe For Work.

FWIW, I not only used this video, but I own the album.

The Presbyterian Doctrine of Purgatory?

The funeral yesterday was at St. Andrews, Mount Pleasant. St Andrews was and is an Episcopal Church, although like a great many successful churches they do not publicize the fact. The place was packed and the priests and staff could not have been more gracious at having a sudden event swamp them on a Friday morning. There was a semi private Eucharist at 10 am in the chapel, followed by the public funeral at 11 in the main church.

Part of the latter was a sermon by a Baptist preacher who said many comforting words to the widow and her two children. He was quite eloquent and actually quoted a good deal of poetr, which impressed us all.

However, a Presbyterian minister was supposed to reminisce about my cousin and relate the sort of person he was. He did do some of that, but he also expostulated that my cousin would likely have to wait for admittance to Heaven until the final coming and Jesus passing of judgment upon this sinful planet. There was a great deal of talk on his part along these lines with some removal and rejection of sinful nature thrown in for good measure.

While I think it shocking that this man in some way thought this would comfort the family. And my cynical nature could not help but notice that we got two sermons for the price of one. But the kicker was when my elder brother, the baptist preacher and graduate of Dallas Theological pointed out that the Presby was apparently discussing Purgatory.

Imagine my amazement when I saw this article this morning. The Presbyterian doctrine of Purgatory, who knew?

Thursday, February 07, 2008


One of the tenets of the Catholic faith is that suicide is a mortal sin. It typically comes from a feeling of despair, a loss of hope. It is also preceded by a feeling of isolation and unconnectedness. I personally think it can be the act of a selfish coward. There are exceptions. I would find it very hard to condemn someone who took their own life due to the ceaseless pain of a terminal illness. I still think that would be wrong, but I understand and empathize.

Pride is considered by Dante to be the worst of sins, but I have always found despair the most dangerous. All of the actions I truly regret, the ones I still wince at even today, were brought about by despair.

I think John Bunyan well knew the soul destroying qualities of despair. The most engaging portion of "Pilgrims Progress" is when Christian is in the castle of the Giant Despair. The image of Christian locked in the dungeon has rung true for me since I first read it more than three decades ago. What also hits very powerfully home is that the entire time that he is in the vile cell, he has the key to his release. He is just so distracted by his plight that he forgets about it.

Most of us get locked in the downward spiral of depression and despair from time to time. Some of us it hits worse than others. But unless your life is one of endless sunshine and twittering birds, you have been depressed.

Some people have predispositions to the state. Others grow depressed due to external circumstances. True love leaves, your business fails, a parent dies, or any number of other reasons. Depression's companions are usually failure, exhaustion and isolation. It can be very hard to fight it off. It is always hard when depressed or despairing to think that one will get out of it. I have learned never to try to cheer up a sad friend with "Things will get better". They won't necessarily get better. Oddly enough the single best remedy I know is a Monty Python song. Laughter can truly be the best medicine. Music, especially the blues or country music, can be a genuine Godsend.

But even deeper, as Christians, we must have faith. Life can truly suck. There is a good chance that our lives will, in fact, never get better. Life is often a slow, long, painful trek to the grave. But that is not the end of it for us as Christians. That is the hope that we must cling to. Our life is a gift, not only to ourselves, but also to those we come into contact with. That is why the sense of isolation that accompanies depression is so lethal. We forget our duties and responsibilities to others and grow self centered.

Society is prone to telling us that we can do it all, we can have it all, we do not need anyone. There are any number of books available on the subject at any given time. Reality knocks a good bit of that nonsense out of us relatively early. We need each other. As Christians we are called to model the good life, the life lived well for the rest of fallen humanity. That is why it is vitally important that we not treat the gift of life lightly.

It is not in being jolly and perky that we win souls to Christ. It is in enduring through pain, in remaining hopeful against horrible odds that the love of God shines through. We often fail at that. I know that I do. But our fellowship with other redeemed sinners can literally be the difference between life and death.

Being a Christian does not mean that you will not be cast into the dungeon of Despair. It does mean that you have the key to leaving, assuming that you remember it. Sometimes we need to remind each other of that.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sad News

We received word late last night that my cousin Tim is dead. Blogging will likely be rather light.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More Objects of My Desire

The Right to Self Defense

The reason why I support a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment is that I see it as a statement of the natural right to self defense. In other words, I have a right to exist. You have a right to exist as well.

Once a state takes away the right to defend yourself, then you no longer have a right to exist.

It really is that simple.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dust Up at the Daughters of the King

BabyBlue has the whole story.

The Episcopal Church is behaving the way it is, not because it's a church, the body of the faithful. It's behaving exactly the same way that Wal-Mart does when Target opens up a store in town.

All of the actions and rhetoric from 815 make absolutely no sense when compared with any Christian doctrine, but it makes a great deal of sense when looked at through the eyes of an economist. The Episcopal church is a large organisation that is slowly failing. With the break away churches, it is being confronted with competition on its home turf of good liturgy. Therefore it is acting to restrict competition by lashing out at the breakaway churches. Add in the obvious feelings of rejection and wounded pride on the part of the Episcopal Church hierarchy and you have a fine mess.

I understand it. But it's poor thinking from both the economic and the theological perspective. Because none of this nonsense will correct the systemic problems of the Episcopal Church. Quite frankly I read it as an admission of the church's leaderships incompetence.


Lots more at Drells Descants, Chris Johnson, Hills of the North, The Living Church, and loads of comments at Stand Firm.

Just Because It Is Pretty

A Joke One of My Partners Just Told Me

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand pulling a male buffalo with the other. He says to the waiter: "Want coffee."

The waiter says, "Sure, Chief. Coming right up." He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee. The Indian drinks the coffee down in one gulp,
turns and blasts the buffalo with the shotgun, causing parts of the animal to splatter everywhere and then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand, pulling another male buffalo with the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter: "Want coffee."

The waiter says "Whoa, Tonto! We're still cleaning up your mess from yesterday."What was all that about, anyway?"

The Indian smiles and proudly says .. "Training for position in United States Congress: Come in, drink coffee, shoot the bull, leave mess for others to clean up, disappear for rest of day.

Don't forget to vote...

We've Got Trouble

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Great Scene from a mediocre Movie

I love Guys and Dolls, but the stage version was so much better than the film. I don't know what genius thought it would be a good move to cast Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson, but I can only hope that he leanred his lesson.

My Secret Fear

I realized this morning that the reason I have been so cool on Mitt Romney is that he might make this our future. I know that it is irrational, but there you are.

Too Cool for Words

H/T The Anchoress