I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Conceal

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In his lectures on Exodus, Jim Jordan mentions his (then) recent interview with the science fiction and fantasy novelist Gene Wolfe:

“Wolfe’s most striking piece of fiction so far is a set of five novels which are in continuation with one another called The Book of the New Sun. It’s real complex and there’s been a lot of analysis saying ‘What did he mean by this? What’s really going on in this chapter?’ and so forth.

“I asked him about it. ‘Are you trying to confuse the reader?’ He said, ‘No, I always leave enough clues and you have to find them.’ He said, ‘Remember: I worked on this for five or six years, so I had a lot of time to put in everything I wanted and to get it the way I wanted it to be.’ He rewrote it five times before it was done.

“Now the reader doesn’t usually take that much time. It’s true of Wolfe’s books—as one reviewer put it: ‘If you buy a novel by Gene Wolfe, you really get about four novels because you can read it over and over and get all kinds of new things out of it each time, so it’s a good investment.’

“But I was struck by the fact that he said: ‘I had five years to work on this and to get things exactly the way I wanted it and to rework this and to get the story exactly the way I wanted it, to make some things clear, to obscure some things, and to put challenges before the reader.’

“And I thought, ‘Well, God had eternity to put things in the Bible and there are plenty of things in the Bible that are clear to us and then there are things that are puzzles.’ The Book of Proverbs says, ‘The glory of God is to conceal a matter and the glory of kings is to search it out.’

Jordan goes on to mention that when Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, preaches the sermon we call Deuteronomy, he has been meditating on Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus for thirty-eight years. If we haven’t done that, we can’t really expect Deuteronomy to be crystal clear to us on a first reading:

“Moses has done that for 38 years. You and I haven’t. Now he puts Deuteronomy down, and what is Deuteronomy? It’s the fruit of 38 years of reflection on all the details in Exodus and Leviticus.

“To understand Deuteronomy really well, we would need to understand everything in Exodus and Leviticus and then we’d have to think about how they go together in a real life context for a long time. Then you’d be in a position to understand what was in Moses’ mind when he wrote Deuteronomy.

“That’s not to say that we can’t get anything out of Deuteronomy. But it is to say that there’s some complicated things in here that a lot of people haven’t gotten and that we’re not going to get today either.

“But it illustrates just how rich this book is, because Deuteronomy is the culmination of the first five books of the Bible. Everything is rolled together in Deuteronomy as a result of Moses’ reflections, under divine inspiration. So we shouldn’t expect it to be completely transparent.”

Source: John Barach

Written by Scott Moonen

April 14, 2019 at 4:51 pm

Eucharist

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We consecrate the things we receive by prayer, the word of God, by thanksgiving. Everything we touch becomes holy if we receive it with gratitude, with the word of God, and prayer: our food becomes holy food for holy people if we give thanks; our friends and family are holy to us; our talents are holy to us; . . . the material goods we receive are holy as we receive them with thanksgiving.

As we are giving thanks for everything in all circumstances we are consecrating the world, which means we are laying God’s claim on everything. When something is holy, it doesn’t belong to us; if I receive food and I give thanks to God for it, that means this is now God’s food, and I better use it the way God wants me to. That means, among other things, that I better share it, because that’s part of what God wants me to do with my food: it’s not just mine anymore; I’ve consecrated it to God.

Everything you give thanks for—every person, every circumstance you give thanks for, every material good you give thanks for—you are laying God’s claim on that thing, you are extending God’s rule over the world by acts of thanksgiving. . . .

Receiving something with thanksgiving also means to ask how can this thing, this person, this circumstance, how can this thing which I’ve consecrated to God by thanksgiving, how can that become, as it were, food that I can share with others? And this, I think, helps us to see how . . . we can respond with gratitude [for] even the bad things that happen in our lives: . . . you’re looking for ways to break out those circumstances as bread, to make them nourishing for other people. . . . How can you turn that into eucharist, a shared meal? . . .

We can also give thanks in bad circumstances, because thanksgiving is proleptic; we give thanks before the deliverance comes. David does this constantly: he’s surrounded by enemies, but then he gives God thanks even though he’s not yet rescued. We celebrate the Lord’s supper in the midst of our enemies; the Lord sets his table in the midst of our enemies. He sets us a table of thanksgiving when he hasn’t yet fulfilled all his promises, and yet we’re giving thanks to him for fulfilling all his promises.

How can we do that? Because his promises are so certain to be fulfilled, because we are so confident that they will be fulfilled, that our deliverance will come whatever form it might take, that we give thanks for it now, before it happens.

Peter Leithart, Continuous Gratitude

Written by Scott Moonen

April 14, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Various

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Lisa gave me a subscription to the Mars Hill Audio Journal for Christmas; a most thoughtful gift. I’m finally making my way through volume 142, although 143 is due any day now. Myers interviews Alan Jacobs, which led me to check out his blog. I liked this post, and so now I have to add another blog and another book to my list.

Maybe I am listening to too many podcasts. I added C. R. Wiley’s Theology Pugcast, and Peter Robinson has picked up his pace. I haven’t had an open window to fall back on Dan Carlin or my Rosenstock–Huessy listening project in months. Unrelated, I’ve switched to Overcast as my podcast player at Jordan’s suggestion. Mars Hill is the only thing I savor at 1x speed. Is that bad?

Perhaps you will enjoy this poem by Wendell Berry. We’ve loved reading his Selected Poems. I’m trying out Brooks Haxton next (I keep malapropping him as Braxton Hicks).

Easter and Pentecost approach! There seem to still be a few tickets left to join us at Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters concert in Raleigh. Reflecting on Easter from the perspective of the Lord’s Supper, I recalled that there are two cups of wine, and that everyone will drink a cup. Your cup will either be filled with wrath-wine of staggering, or with the king’s festive wine of joy and fellowship. Thanks to Jesus for taking the first cup for us!

Beverly Cleary is still alive! Happy 103rd birthday to her.

I finally finished Man and Woman in Christ. I’m still surprised and delighted to find a very thoughtful and sympathetic charismatic RC. I’ve blogged most of my favorite quotes here, with a couple still awaiting time to transcribe. The book recommendation came from Aaron Renn’s Masculinist newsletter, which I have been enjoying.

The big kids and I are switching from body–weight exercise to strength training using Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program. I’m kind of excited about it especially since they are all interested in joining me in it. It’s been great to run and workout together with them over the last couple years.

Written by Scott Moonen

April 12, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Personal

Debt

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The church is a debt-free zone; . . . it’s a zone where every single member has received gifts by the Spirit, gifts that are to be used to benefit the entire body. That’s part of thanks: proper gratitude for the reception of the gift is to use the gift to benefit others. . . . Part of what it means biblically to show gratitude is to use the gifts to benefit and to support and to nourish others.

Everybody in the church is party to this; everyone in the church is gifted, and everyone in the church benefits from all the gifts of everyone. . . There’s no fixed hierarchy in the church; it’s a debt-free zone; it’s a community of mutual giving and receiving, of mutual construction that is all underwritten by the gifts that come from the Father: because the Father is a party to every single gift exchange that exists in the church. . . .

That’s the kind of community where people are free to give, free to receive without being enslaved, free to give even to those who are not very grateful; . . . ; freed up by the gospel, by the knowledge that the Father is the true and absolute patron, that he’s a party to every transaction. That knowledge frees people to give and receive gladly and cheerfully.

Peter Leithart, Jesus the Ingrate

Written by Scott Moonen

April 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Authentic

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Modern society tends to deprecate cultural modes of expression such as ritual, ceremony, and formal signs of affection and respect because they appear “arbitrary.” Of course, each individual cultural expression, like all symbols, is arbitrary, but the existence of some cultural expression is not arbitrary. It is humanly essential. The meaning of a cultural expression may be determined by tradition rather than by the rationally calculated requirements of the situation. But in language, art, and other matters of cultural expression, much of the symbol’s effectiveness in strengthening a community derives from the community’s tradition. To reject a language because the meaning assigned to each sound is arbitrary misses the point. All languages are arbitrary, and there is no workable substitute for a common set of meanings passed on by a human tradition.

Likewise, people in modern society can often deprecate cultural expressions as “inauthentic.” This objection also ignores an important human truth. If each individual or grouping is expected to develop independently an “authentic” and rich system of symbolic expression, then such systems will never come to be. Instead, human life will be gradually impoverished of its means of expression, and the human realities that need regular expression will be left unprovided for. Cultural expressions are shared meanings, not unique creations.

(Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 607–608)

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Discretion

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“Don’t keep coughing so, Kitty, for heaven’s sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces.”

“Kitty has no discretion in her coughs,” said her father; “she times them ill.”

“I do not cough for my own amusement,” replied Kitty fretfully.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2019 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Humor, Quotations

The Wild Rose (Wendell Berry)

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Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,

suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only a shade,

and once more I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

Wendell Berry, Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, 153, originally from Entries

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Poetry