I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-6)

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I’m proud to be a “small minority with unacceptable views.” Workers of the world, unite!

Elsewhere, this is how I explained my refusal to take the mRNA jabs:

You can count me as mostly aligned with moderate Alex Berenson; that is, I’m not inclined to discount germ theory or the existence of the thing, and I’m inclined to blame simple greed and social anxiety for everything that happened at least as much as I blame conspiracy. I do know people who fell gravely ill, but it is also the case that when it went through my family it wasn’t even as bad as the worst flu we’ve had. But, in short: I consider that the dangers of this (real) thing have been way overblown and the risk-reward of the (inadequately tested!) mRNA therapies for almost everyone is now looking to be way upside down. I consider mandating the therapies to be an evil thing.

[When asked about alternative injections] According to my understanding, Novavax is still not a traditional attenuated virus but is on the spectrum of novel approaches that focus attention in some way on the spike proteins. I actually think that these novel approaches could be useful tools for us in a few decades’ time, but in our anxiety and hubris and our failure to engage in an open scientific process, we are instead setting scientific and medical credibility back by much farther than that (not to mention the gross ethical failures). I am intrigued by the alternate history of polio, and I think that history will judge the chicken pox vaccine to be ill advised thanks to the unintended side effects that seem to be worsening shingles in the general population. In any case, even if we had a traditional attenuated or inactivated vaccine for Covid-19 (which seems unlikely since historically we have been unable to vaccinate against the common cold) it could be positively beneficial to only a small percentage of the population. (I’m at low risk plus I’ve already had the thing.) More importantly, it should be required of exactly zero percent of the population.

I haven’t told you all their argument, of course; it was long and complicated, as it often is when both sides are right. (J. R. R. Tolkien, Roverandom, 167-168)

Mark Horne cautions us to remember that imitation is not inauthentic. This is true of raising covenant children as well as our own pursuit of sanctification and maturation.

This is God’s heart toward Jerusalem:

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”​​
Says your God.
​​“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,​​
That her warfare is ended,
​​That her iniquity is pardoned;
​​For she has received from Yahweh’s hand
​​Double for all her sins.” (Isa 40:1-2)

But: now such comfort is given to the New Jerusalem. So you must get yourself into the ark of the church if you wish to experience this salvation-rescue-deliverance.

But: God still disciplines his church, even to the point of removing lampstands:

The threshing floor and the winepress​​
Shall not feed them,
​​And the new wine shall fail in her. (Hosea 9:2)

Bread and wine are an actual manifestation of God’s presence and mercy. If you don’t practice weekly communion, you are pantomiming-enacting a famine of God’s mercy and his presence.

For certain values of regeneration:

I’m still listening to the Psallos Hebrews and Philippians albums regularly and enjoying them.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 5, 2022 at 6:56 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-5)

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I think of my job often as being a translator between executives, managers, architects, developers, testers, customers, writers, etc. My favorite work projects have been those we conducted war-room style or in an open landscape, yet now it is almost two years since I’ve been in the office. We’ve filled in the gap a little bit with some team outings. Today I went in to the office to collect my belongings, before my vaxx-leper status kicks in and my physical access is deactivated. This is such a stark contrast with my experience at church where we worked hard to find some way to meet, at times even with our fussy government’s disapproval. What a joy and encouragement that fellowship was, and what a missed opportunity these two years have been for camaraderie at so many anxious companies and churches!

Gary North has interesting thoughts on intellectual property. Nassim Taleb has a compelling argument that the long-term value of Bitcoin is zero. The same, I think, is true in spades for NFTs. If North is right, his insights serve as a secondary confirmation of Taleb’s position: in the long run, there is no solid foundation for digital property or title to it.

John Barach writes:

Our children should never wonder if—let alone doubt that—they really belong to God, if Jesus really died for them, if they’re really Christians at all. And we, as parents or pastors or teachers, shouldn’t teach them that these things may or may not be true. Assurance of salvation is not meant to be something we arrive at eventually in the Christian life, perhaps after quite some struggle to get there. Rather, assurance is the foundation on which our children ought to build with confidence from the very outset of their lives.

I’ve reflected in the past that Girardian scapegoating is to be resisted forcefully. But there is also a sort of garden-variety human nature to justifying ourselves in little ways by discounting others’ experience. These can be only very little transgressions, and it is a glory to overlook them.

I found this article fascinating. HT: Aaron Renn.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 29, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-4)

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Snow!

I wrote last week about households. A corollary of this is that any work a wife does outside of her home is a gift that she brings to her husband and places under his direction.

But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and Yahweh will release her. (Numbers 30:8)

This does not mean that he does not give her great freedom in it. It is the nature of authority to beget and to multiply authority.

The heart of her husband safely trusts her;​​
So he will have no lack of gain.
​​She does him good and not evil​​
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
​​And willingly works with her hands.
​​She is like the merchant ships,​​
She brings her food from afar.
​​She also rises while it is yet night,
​​And provides food for her household,​​
And a portion for her maidservants.
​She considers a field and buys it;
​​From her profits she plants a vineyard. (Proverbs 31:11–16)

I always look for Wolfe when I go to the used book store:

I was tempted to form a trifecta, but I think it will be a long time before I can work in The Bonfire of the Vanities.

But whenever we are dealing with symbolic language, we must remember that the symbol is always less than the reality. The wedding ring is less than the marriage. The flag is less than the country it represents. This means that if the lake of fire is a literal lake of fire, then it must be really bad. But if the lake of fire is merely symbolic, then that means that the reality it represents is far worse . . . Saying that the fire and brimstone are symbolic does not fix our dilemma. Symbolic of what? — Douglas Wilson

But what if the essence of a place is that it is defenseless? What if its ability to welcome others, to be hospitable to strangers, is its identity? What if vulnerability is its unstated mission? . . . . A synagogue is not like an airport or a stadium. When it becomes a fortress, something immeasurable is lost. — Juliette Kayyem

My state and county Republican leadership is a little too eager to commemorate 9/11 and MLKJ.

Fruits of the Spirit are to be practiced, cultivated:

Hatred is a fruit of the Spirit:

Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!​​
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
​​For they speak against You wickedly;​​
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate them, O Yahweh, who hate You?
​​And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
​​I hate them with perfect hatred;​​
I count them my enemies. (Psalm 139:19–22)

Written by Scott Moonen

January 22, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Miscellany

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-3)

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Charlotte and Asher competed in an NCFCA tournament last week and did well. Ivy volunteered with judging. I really enjoyed witnessing so many young folks engaging in good speech and debate, and I greatly appreciate the home school speech club we’ve been able to participate in this year.

One student made the striking statement that “the good is the enemy of the best.” I’m familiar with the converse expression, but there are cases as well where this is true: we must offer our best, our first fruits, to God.

The tournament forced us to miss our church’s twelfth night feast, but we lit our own Epiphany light upon our return, combining our tree with three that we collected from the neighborhood:

Then he shall put his hand on the head of the ascension offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. (Lev. 1:4)

This leads to a profound irony:

Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?” (Matt. 26:67–68)

Therefore your sin remains. Thomas makes better use of his hands:

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27)

May we be his heirs:

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

We set our sights too low if we merely train our daughters to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2). We have received many blessings from the global economy, but it also represents an ever-increasing dislocation from a healthy oiko-nomos, that is, healthy household management. Our sons as well must be oriented towards their household, though they will naturally have a more outward-facing posture than their wives.

With Rosenstock-Huessy, I believe that the day of the big things—the big countries, the big economies, the big banks, the big companies, the big denominations—is coming to an end. Right now we must and do find ways to walk in this world of great giants and beasts, but we do so with a hopeful eye to the future. Our children will likely walk in a different world, and our grand-children almost certainly will. C. R. Wiley’s books Man of the House and The Household and the War for the Cosmos are both helpful introductions to thinking differently. I recall Nassim Taleb writing about Italian doctors and lawyers, how their practices tend to be much smaller and how they place a high value on individual accomplishment. I cannot find the quote but it was a compelling idea, especially in the male world.

It also strikes me that we do not see the hidden tradeoffs we have made. Aaron Renn’s reflections on “Beyond Economic Piety” underscore this well. What if we could abolish abortion in exchange for half of our GDP? Or abolish abortion in exchange for half of our pharmaceutical formulary being put out of reach of the average person? Wouldn’t you make that exchange without hesitation? We have received great wealth but at unbearable cost. Rich Lusk rightly observes that, “Of all the revolutions of the last several centuries that have rocked the world (the French Revolution, the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution), it is the sexual revolution that has been the bloodiest of them all.” Miserere nobis.

Mark Horne recognizes the voice of Aslan:

So sometimes you know things and sometimes you really know things. I knew Jesus was YHWH but, when I came to the messages to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), having read through the Bible from the beginning to that point, I really knew it.

His voice was unmistakable.

Mark Horne also passes along this article on what you might call a “best is the enemy of the good” strength training regimen. I appreciate the observations here; right now a one-hour workout twice a week is the best balance for me. I’m squatting twice, deadlifting twice, curling twice, pressing once, and bench pressing once. I’m never sore while I maintain this pace, though I only have to miss a single workout in order for the next one to leave me sore! I’ve also been influenced by the Barbell Medicine team to conduct my work sets around 70-80% of my estimated 1RM, rather than trying to negotiate complex patterns in an attempt to experience further progression. Maybe things will be different ten years from now, but I’m content with how things are going now.

Alan Jacobs plans to “repair something every day, even if it’s something insignificant, and even if the repair is just a bit of cleaning. I want each night to be able to say: Today, instead of acquiring something new, I took something already known to me and made it a little better.”

It is true that each little victory is hardly a victory thanks to the fact that the Overton window has moved so far. We should not even be entertaining the idea of the things that are being half-heartedly struck down.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 15, 2022 at 8:08 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-2)

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Wendell Berry’s “A Standing Ground”—

However just and anxious I have been,
I will stop and step back
from the crowd of those who may agree
with what I say, and be apart.
There is no earthly promise of life or peace
but where the roots branch and weave
their patient silent passages in the dark;
uprooted, I have been furious without an aim.
I am not bound for any public place,
but for ground of my own
where I have planted vines and orchard trees,
and in the heat of the day climbed up
into the healing shadow of the woods.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew–wet red berries in a cup.

Mark Horne writes that “people who read the whole Bible every four years are better off than people who read less than half the Pentateuch in the first quarter of every year.” Read the whole thing.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 9, 2022 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Poetry

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-1)

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Happy ninth day of Christmas!

I love this phrase by Frost: “the earnest love that laid the swale in rows.”

And I love this evocative picture of a kind of New Jerusalem by Berry, from “The Morning’s News”—

. . . Though the river floods
and the spring is cold, my heart goes on,
faithful to a mystery in a cloud,
and the summer’s garden continues its descent
through me, toward the ground.

Those are richly blessed who find a place where they are completely out of breath trying to keep up:

Written by Scott Moonen

January 2, 2022 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Miscellany

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-52)

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To the Word has us in Isaiah. Advent is such a fitting time to read Isaiah!

Woe to the multitude of many people
​​Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,​​
And to the rushing of nations
​​That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
​​The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
​​But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
​​And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
​​Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
​​Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
​​And before the morning, he is no more.
​​This is the portion of those who plunder us,
​​And the lot of those who rob us. (Isaiah 17:12–14, NKJV)

And in this mountain​​
Yahweh of hosts will make for all people
​​A feast of choice pieces,
​​A feast of wines on the lees,
​​Of fat things full of marrow,
​​Of well-refined wines on the lees.
​​And He will destroy on this mountain​​
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
​​And the veil that is spread over all nations.
​​He will swallow up death forever,
​​And the Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from all faces;
​​The rebuke of His people
​​He will take away from all the earth;
​​For Yahweh has spoken.
​​And it will be said in that day:
​​“Behold, this is our God;
​​We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
​​This is Yahweh;
​​We have waited for Him;
​​We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6–9, NKJV adapted)

I have five different tunes for While Shepherds Watched in my music library. It’s hard to pick a favorite, especially now that I have one more to pick from:

Every social theory is a theology in disguise. (C. R. Wiley, “Culture and Worldview“)

Have you ever wondered what set the ladies dancing and the lords a–leaping? Well, it was the pipers’ piping:

Written by Scott Moonen

December 24, 2021 at 9:25 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-51)

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And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to meet on the Sabbath?” (Luke 14:3, adapted)

The striking thing about this is that he answered their watching.

Praise God:

The story of Noah is a comfort for Christians today. Faced with ungodliness on every side, we do not have rule or dominion. We live in a time of prophecy and Ark-building, warning the wicked and building the Church. In time, however, God will destroy the wicked, either through plague or conversion, and give rule to His people. The wine we drink in Holy Communion and the robes our church officers wear are our pledge that this is so. Like Noah, we must never shrink from our duty. (James Jordan, Primeval Saints, 50)

I keep falling farther and farther behind on podcasts. I am three and a half months behind on Ken Myers:

Shakespeare earned his place in our pantheon of minds by staging thought and action. Across his works, terms like think, thinking, or thought outnumber feel, feeling, or felt by a nearly ten to one ratio. He raises ideas into a quasi-physical reality, vivifying their dynamic power as a palpable force. (Scott Newstok, How to Think Like Shakespeare, quoted in MHAJ 151)

He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found: Two cheers for utopia.

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:29-31, NKJV)

In read-aloud this week, we stumbled across this helpful history of a grown–up counting his NFTs:

Scott: The Little Prince is Jesus. He has tamed us, and we miss him so much. And all of the stars remind us of him.
Annie [sighing]: Thank you for reading to us!
Amos: I’m going upstairs to wrestle with Asher.

But: we tryst with the prince every week, and so he continues to tame and tend us!

When one wishes to play the wit, he sometimes wanders a little from the truth. I have not been altogether honest in what I have told you about the lamplighters. And I realize that I run the risk of giving a false idea of our planet to those who do not know it. Men occupy a very small place upon the Earth. If the two billion inhabitants who people its surface were all to stand upright and somewhat crowded together, as they do for some big public assembly, they could easily be put into one public square twenty miles long and twenty miles wide. All humanity could be piled up on a small Pacific islet.

The grown-ups, to be sure, will not believe you when you tell them that. They imagine that they fill a great deal of space. They fancy themselves as important as the baobabs. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 68)

The population is now four times as great, so the dimensions are twice as great. But this is still a good thing to know.

In a multitude of people is a king’s honor,​​
But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince. (Proverbs 14:28 NKJV)

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 86)

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”

And the roses were very much embarrassed.

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you—the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.”

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose—” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .”

“I am responsible for my rose,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 86–88)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Declaration of Independence)

Written by Scott Moonen

December 18, 2021 at 8:21 am

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-50)

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The law of entropy began to be overturned in AD 30 with the fuller intrusion of the Spirit into creation. Children are an especially potent way to multiply the Spirit’s influence in the world.

I discussed epistemology with an unbelieving friend recently. He’s right that it is not sufficient to simply say that the Bible is the basis of Christian epistemology, since we receive the Bible in the context of other things like language and history and embodied existence. For this I like Rosenstock-Huessy’s alternative to cogito, ergo sum. Rosenstock-Huessy says: respondeo, etsi mutabor; I respond, although I will be changed.

Everything is a gift: existence, embodied existence, relationships, language, the Bible. Our proper response to all of these is first to receive them as pure gift, with gratitude to the Giver, and then allow ourselves to be shaped and changed by that. Thus, in a way, our epistemology is founded on the Giver rather than only on his Word.

A friend introduced me to Psallos recently and I have their albums on repeat right now.

Earlier I shared Rosenstock-Huessy’s summary of a few modern revolutions. I am still stuck in the middle of his book, but I wonder what the next era will bring. I pray that it will be every-man-a-fig-and-vine-dresser.

Written by Scott Moonen

December 10, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-49)

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The laces on my running shoes come untied at least once a day, and almost always once per run, even with a double knot. A week ago I started using Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot, and they haven’t come untied by themselves yet.

Studies show the new variant is caused by climate conferences and includes myocarditis among its unprecedented symptoms. Scientists have decided to name it the “COP26 variant.”

A friend points out that Delilah is paid some multiple of 1,100 pieces of silver (Judges 16), and in the very next chapter Micah steals 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother. At a minimum there is a thematic link here, but it is interesting to consider whether Micah’s mother is actually Delilah. Micah is not the only son gone bad in this story; Jonathan the Levite is likely the grandson of Moses (Judges 18:30). It seems the tribe of Dan is wandering as well, certainly spiritually. At least it is ambiguous that they are conquering a city outside of their borders (Joshua 19) and which might not even be Canaanite.

Another friend points out that there are times when God will discipline his church for obeying the magistrate:

So [Moses and Aaron] said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to Yahweh our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” (Exodus 5:3)

This was interesting:

Amen:

Written by Scott Moonen

December 3, 2021 at 4:21 pm