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Archive for the ‘Current events’ Category

Love in the time of Chinese flu

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Now is a good time for the church to remember our call to unity. But we’ve all seen unity used as a cover to downgrade truth, righteousness, and genuine love. So it is equally a good time to be cautious about how that unity is urged and achieved.

As a practical example, I can show love for my brother Tom by standing six feet away from him and being charitable and gracious towards his reasons for wanting to exercise caution. But is there any situation whatsoever where my brotherly love for Tom restrains me from hugging Joe?

This article by Brett McCracken is typical of some of the poorly framed calls to unity nowadays. Ironically, you could say that Brett is insufficiently nuanced, or perhaps that his indecisive nuance is insufficiently masculine or fatherly.

Brett makes a simple but common category mistake: the man of weak conscience and the anxious man are not necessarily the same. As Friedman stresses, and as any good parent knows, our goal for the anxious is not to keep them from falling into sin, but to provide them enough firmness and exposure to mature. To be clear: I do not mean to imply that everyone taking precautions is anxious, nor do I mean to imply that that the best medicine is always to confront someone’s anxiety head-on.

However, anxiety is sin. And that leads us to another of Brett’s mistakes, which is to leave out almost entirely the category of the prophetic. He does want us to be faithful to the gospel, but there are many other points at which truth, righteousness, and beauty call for taking a loyal stand. Such a stand may appear to some to lack the humility and patience that Brett stresses. Brett himself makes the mistake of opposing confidence and humility; contrast this with Paul who exhorts us to be convinced about disputable matters, and we all remember Chesterton’s cutting insight on the true meaning of humility. And of course Brett himself is confident; we expect no less of someone writing to urge the church how to behave. Prophets know that their message can and must be grounded on a better sort of humility and patience and love. Every good parent knows that firmness is compatible with these things, and even Brett is exercising a kind of mollified firmness toward the prophet; the problem is that he is equating agreeable unity with true unity and thereby pointing his firmness in the wrong direction. It is easy to take a stand on yesterday’s issues, and for peace, but difficult and unpopular to take a stand on today’s issues.

Today’s issues are no small matter because they hinge on a number of points that do call for our loyalty: the priority of God’s call to worship in the heavenly assembly; truth; a biblical approach to quarantine, including a biblical value for livelihood and work; a biblical understanding of spheres of authority and their requirements and limits; and a wise, fatherly, and firm response to the truly infectious sin of anxiety. Surprisingly, these points all in fact involve a love for our neighbor, a placing “the interests of others above the self” as Brett rightly appeals but too narrowly applies. In addition to the more popular truths of humility and patience, the church has the solemn responsibility to proclaim these truths as well. With our childlike faith, we ought always to be in the vanguard of the children who expose the emperor’s lack of clothing.

We will surely be worshipping together in ten years’ time and with even closer bonds of unity in Jesus our king. Holding that anticipation over all is a good way to frame the great patience and love we exercise today even in our firmness. We are loyal to truth, righteousness, beauty, and to one another.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

Assembly

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But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22–24 ESV)

The church is not analogous to a movie theater or sporting event. The church is analogous to the general assembly. Where the general assembly can meet to conduct business, the church must also be meeting to conduct business with her king. The life of the world depends upon this.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 3, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Various

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It is interesting to follow some Chinese flu naysayers and to see the diversity of opinions. The numbers naysayers are particularly interesting. On the one hand, how much did China underreport deaths (why the loss of millions of mobile subscribers)? On the other hand, how much are Western countries with empty hospitals scraping and pinching to come up with flulike death numbers, regardless of actual cause of death? Nassim Taleb reminds us that it is wise to be cautious, and together with Wrath of Gnon suggests that we wear masks until we are sure of the scope and long term effects of this. Ross Douthat agrees we should be cautious but also that lockdowns have gone too far. Alex Berenson has been calling attention to overlooked and misrepresented data. Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge was an early respectable platform to say we’ve likely been going too far. Doug Wilson provides help processing Romans 13; emergency powers sure are an interesting gray area for a constitutional government, aren’t they? Peter Leithart suggests we think of God’s judgement through the rubric of the ten commandments. And Reformed Books Online has a treasure trove of Reformational quotes on plagues and parishes and pastors and magistrates. What a wonderful concern for pastoral care!

The conspiracy theorists are also interesting. I find it impossible to believe in a global conspiracy. I don’t doubt that there are folks with global schemes, hard at work to take advantage of the situation, but I do doubt that their schemes could possibly come together successfully. For one, it is always the case that wicked men end up biting and devouring each other; no conspiracy can be maintained at such scale. But more importantly, God has declared that Satan would “not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.” (Rev. 20) How then could the nations be collectively under his sway? So, then, any great global deception and anxious frenzy must instead be a direct judicial punishment from God, rather than being an organized work of Satan that is nevertheless being used by God. It really does seem to me that, far from working through a crafty plan, we are careening from one anxious face-saving measure to the next, each time overcorrecting for our last error lest we be forced to repent instead. But as Leithart points out, the fact that we see God’s hand in this is encouraging indeed.

It is a good time to remember Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . you’ll be a Man, my son!”

I confess that I cannot say “Christ is risen!” without thinking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and “Cheese toast anesti!”

Aaron Renn’s Masculinst newsletter is back! Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. He is always a stimulating read; often he has a different but helpful perspective on situations than my own first reaction. In his latest issue, he reminds us that “we can only go forward.” I believe we should evaluate this in light of Rosenstock-Huessy’s observation that the next phase after the oikumenical “big things” that outgrow themselves is a tribal “little and local things” phase. As such, even as individuals and families we should be strategizing how to shrink our dependency on global corporations and trade, and grow the fruitfulness of our homes and communities.

The big kids and I have been doing barbell workouts for a year now! While also continuing with the chin-ups and pull-ups:

Interesting links and reading:

Written by Scott Moonen

April 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Moral appeal

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[M]odern ideologies involve definite ethical positions. Though an ideology may actually represent the interests of a particular group in society, it does not function as an expression of desire but as an expression of conscience. The slogan “liberty, equality, fraternity” may have originated in the bourgeoisie’s attempt to gain power at the expense of the privileged noble and clerical classes, but the slogan nonetheless rang out as a moral watchword. It struck men with all the force of an “ought,” an ethical imperative. Modern ideologies appeal to people’s consciences, and those who reject an ideology must rely upon the force of an alternate ideological or moral position or contend with the guilt which results from rejecting the ideological appeal. This is why it is so important for Christians to be able to recognize non–Christian ideologies. If they cannot, they are defenseless against their moral appeal. Christians are among those most susceptible to ideological influence, precisely because of their high level of moral sensitivity.

(Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 522)

Written by Scott Moonen

March 22, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Truth

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Also, many Communists have interpreted the dialectic as giving them freedom to lie and propagandize with little concern for “truth.” Their ethics are not based on absolute norms, but are historically conditioned. Marxists feel free to do whatever is necessary to advance the Communist society—the society in which justice will prevail. What is true at one stage of the dialectical process or from one perspective in the dialectical conflict is not necessarily true at another stage or from another perspective. Marxists do not entirely reject the concept of objective “truth,” but they define and apply the term in a way that differs drastically from its definition and application in Christian morality. For a Marxist, lying can be permissible—even necessary.

(Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 516)

Written by Scott Moonen

March 22, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Current events

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Fit to Burst is free for Kindle this weekend. It’s not just for moms!

We’re extremely excited that Jamie Soles’s new album is almost ready!

At the moment there are still about 80 tickets remaining for the Andrew Peterson Christmas concert in Durham. You should join us there.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Books, Current events, Music

Rene Girard

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I’m surprised that it’s taken almost two weeks for me to learn about the death of Rene Girard. May he find himself vindicated, not for seeing everything or even some things aright, but in Jesus Christ!

Watch this interview he gave in 2009 for an introduction to him and his work:

Written by Scott Moonen

November 16, 2015 at 5:40 pm