I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Turmoil

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We have to remind our readers once again that this chapter does not attempt by any means to list all the waves which fertilized Gulag—but only those which had a political coloration. And just as, in a course in physiology, after a detailed description of the circulation of the blood, one can begin over again and describe in detail the lymphatic system, one could begin again and describe the waves of nonpolitical offenders and habitual criminals from 1918 to 1953. And this description, too, would run long. It would bring to light many famous decrees, now in part forgotten (even though they have never been repealed), which supplied abundant human material for the insatiable Archipelago. One was the Decree on Absenteeism. One was the Decree on Production of Bad Quality Goods. Another was on samogon [moonshine] distilling. Its peak period was 1922—but arrests for this were constant throughout the twenties. And the Decree on the Punishment of Collective Farmers for Failure to Fulfill the Obligatory Norm of Labor Days. And the Decree on the Introduction of Military Discipline on Railroads, issued in April, 1943—not at the beginning of the war, but when it had already taken a turn for the better.

In accordance with the ancient Petrine tradition, these decrees always put in an appearance as the most important element in all our legislation, but without any comprehension of or reference to the whole of our previous legislation. Learned jurists were supposed to coordinate the branches of the law, but they were not particularly energetic at it, nor particularly successful either.

This steady pulse of decrees led to a curious national pattern of violations and crimes. One could easily recognize that neither burglary, nor murder, nor samogon distilling, nor rape ever seemed to occur at random intervals or in random places throughout the country as a result of human weakness, lust, or failure to control one’s passions. By no means! One detected, instead, a surprising unanimity and monotony in the crimes committed. The entire Soviet Union would be in a turmoil of rape alone, or murder alone, or samogon distilling alone, each in its turn—in sensitive reaction to the latest government decree. Each particular crime or violation seemed somehow to be playing into the hands of the latest decree so that it would disappear from the scene that much faster! At that precise moment, the particular crime which had just been foreseen, and for which wise new legislation had just provided stricter punishment, would explode simultaneously everywhere.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, 86–87

Written by Scott Moonen

July 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Quotations

Metábasis eis állo génos

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Richard Bledsoe writes of New York City as a Babylon. I identify the Babylon of Revelation with Jerusalem rather than Rome; i.e., a false church rather than outright paganism. Interestingly, Bledsoe sees the modern city as being built on a kind of Christian heresy. What good is salt that has lost its savor?

I am reading The Gulag Archipelago:

Duane Garner points out that “Jesus is the heart of flesh; the law is the heart of stone.”

Looks like the Bee beat me to the punch. They are on quite a roll lately.

Doug Wilson is also on a roll. And it isn’t even November! These ten–year–old theses on the kindness of Christ from Wilson’s church are well done.

John Barach has me listening to the Tallest Man on Earth. I’m actually taller than he is, so I must be the tallest man in the galaxy.

Anthony Bradley is also on a roll talking about fatherhood lately.

I’m generally not wearing a mask, although it felt deliciously transgressive to wear one into the ABC store. It seems to me the argument for masks doesn’t adequately account for the entire landscape of qualifications and tradeoffs. Taleb and many others are still carrying the banner for masks as a kind of “fat tail” circuit breaker, and I respect that as long as it remains a personal choice. It is safer to drive 25mph, and I realize that we still don’t have a good understanding of the possibilities of asymptomatic transmission. But government mandates for masks, as well as community policing (#wearadamnmask) seem sinister. The CDC continues to consider your risk negligible until you have spent fifteen minutes within six feet of someone who is symptomatic or pre-symptomatic. Of course, that guidance could change tomorrow just like so much else has.

In my last post I recommended some articles from James Jordan. Among those articles, he summarized what he later came to call his “laws of psalmody.” Recovering the Psalms is important because they are a great means of spiritual warfare. They are also a great means of spiritual formation. We often forget that we can bring our tears to God; that we can pray for judgment–justice as well as for mercy, which means that we not only pray for but even delight in the destruction of God’s enemies; and that God has been savingly at work in the hearts of our children since before they were born.

I worked my way through the James Jordan complete audio collection over the course of five years, and it is some of the best money I have ever spent. Let me know if this interests you and I will see what I can do to whet your appetite. And if your appetite is whetted, I have an agreement to redistribute it at a discount.

My family has been blessed to learn many Psalms from Jamie Soles. He is one of several artists, ministries, and projects that I support. This list also includes:

My brother-in-law wrote a book! Another brother-in-law is taller than me, so he might possibly be the tallest man in the universe.

Lisa: “What’s going to happen to New York City?”
Me: “It’s going to bring the gospel to Tim Keller.”

Written by Scott Moonen

July 3, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Miscellany

Various

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Some very important information on North Carolina real estate.

I’m fiddling with Asher’s and Charlotte’s Rubik’s cube this afternoon and had to lookup my cheat sheet. I can solve two thirds of the cube from memory, but that last slice is hard.

I’m a preterist, and I think this number refers to the Herodian high priests leading up to AD 70. However, I still got a kick out of this mask design. In order to buy and sell, you know:

An inspiration to authoritarian leaders and Karens everywhere:

Read this man. He is underappreciated.

Remember the potency of saying “I love you.”

Don’t let the Marxists distract you from the matteringness of Chinese churches. Remember your Psalms.

A word to princes: if you cut off your people, you are cutting off your own hands and feet (Proverbs 14:28). Long live the deplorables, and may God send as many or more church planters to serve them as to serve The City™:

Lots of things are out of kilter right now in the world. We seem to have trouble knowing the purpose of babies, boys and girls, skin pigment, magistrates, corporations, history, the church. You might say this is a dislocation of everyone’s worship and loyalty, and that is true. But there is more to be said.

G. K. Chesterton may not have actually said that “I am” what is wrong with the world, but we can all believe that he might have said it. And it is true. This is especially a dislocation of the evangelical church’s worship and loyalty. It is a principle that judgment begins with God’s house (1 Peter 4:17) and that when a man’s ways please God, his enemies are at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7). Worship is the best national defense, and you can see the counterexample repeated throughout the book of Judges. Joshua 24:14 springs on us the surprise that our fathers fell into idolatry in Egypt. Now we understand how and why we became slaves in Egypt!

Some thirty years ago now, James Jordan had some helpful things to say about this. He reminds us that wisdom is a precondition for dominion, the church is the real shadow government of the world, and offers some very practical thoughts on how the greater evangelical church has failed and can recover. Peter Leithart has some complementary (and complimentary) thoughts on additional practical things pastors can be doing.

Wilson also reminds us that we have an easy way to identify the sons of Issachar in this moment; did they see it coming? Think about this: happy warrior Wilson has a chapter on fruitfulness in his marriage book, while Tim Keller does not, giving instead a tithe of his book to singleness! Keller might be solid on matters of first importance, but in spite of his winsomeness (rather, because of it) he is not the tip of the spear. Our culture’s center will not hold because Jesus is not at the center. While we are full of gratitude for the gift of our roots, we can’t spend our greatest energy trying to help keep it all together, or be mollifying partners with the culture as men like Keller and Greear do. That failing strategy is partly why we are here now. Instead we remember the antithesis, declaring unapologetically that Jesus is the center. God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world by this man. Hear him!

Written by Scott Moonen

June 28, 2020 at 3:59 pm

That aged well

with one comment

Better to be the happy warrior. “Be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling!”

Written by Scott Moonen

June 25, 2020 at 7:52 am

Posted in Christ is Lord

Quantitative tightening

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Thesis: inflationary policy is one way of devouring widows’ houses.

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD. Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.” (1 Kings 21:17–24 ESV)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Christ is Lord

Witness

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If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:16–21 ESV)

And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. . . . Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” (Mark 14:53–58 ESV)

As James Jordan says, AD 70 was a public vindication of Jesus Christ.

Written by Scott Moonen

June 21, 2020 at 3:20 pm

A confusion of terms

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Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Written by Scott Moonen

June 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Quotations

Why beauty matters

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I do remember the source of this video. Thanks to the Theology Pugcast crew for recommending it on the passing, early this year, of Sir Roger Scruton:

Written by Scott Moonen

June 18, 2020 at 8:03 pm

A cruciform foundation

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I have been saving this video for a listen for so long that I can’t remember anymore who recommended it to me. Thank you, whoever you were. Please accept my recommendation:

Written by Scott Moonen

June 18, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Wiser than God

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The world scoffs at how God’s word makes allowance for any kind of slavery whatsoever. But there are still about half as many slaves now in the United States as there were at the time of the American Civil War.

The world professes to care about black lives, and chides the church for its supposed lack of love. But there are still about half as many black babies murdered annually in the United States [1] [2] as the annual death rate of Hitler’s concentration camps.

To the world, justice is not as important as getting one over on God. Since God’s justice is perfect and complete, this is a bigger and more pressing problem for the world than it realizes. God has no case to answer for either his justice (Romans 1–2) or his love (Romans 5).

In God and his law, we finally have a proper foundation that allows us to talk about all kinds of things, including police and prison reform; red and yellow, black and white; quantitative easing; just war; and so much more. There are six things Yahweh hates, seven that are an abomination to him; and one that never entered into his mind.

We may even discover that God’s law is more freeing than man’s.

Written by Scott Moonen

June 13, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Commentary, Miscellany