Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for the ‘Great Quote(s)’ Category

Best Links of the Week

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Provocative piece entitled, “Artists Build the Church.”  Aesthetics without a doubt have been marginalized in the church.  Another work that should be brought into this discussion is Hans Urs von Balthasaar’s Trilogy on “The Glory of the Lord.”  Shame on Protestants for letting a Catholic write probably the best treatment of aesthetics (alongside Wolsterstorff’s work).   God’s holiness and God’s glory are at the core of God’s character.  Hence, art and aesthetics are at the very center of our Christian faith.

4th Amendment Underclothes – metallic print protest clothing.  For those of you unaware the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Department of Homeland Security commandeering domain names.

It takes Iran over 30 years to notice Star of David placed on roof of their national airline’s (Iran Air) headquarters.  The building was designed by Israeli architects.

Which Cashback credit cards to use at which retailers/websites.  This was rather helpful.

A number of top shelf scientists publish a cautionary letter regarding the new X-ray machines that has some good scientific concerns that dispel a lot of the misinformation regarding the safety of the new machines.   I think some more substantial science is in order here particularly for the elderly, children, pregnant, and those prone to various cancers on or close to skin (testicular, breast…).

If you haven’t heard yet, there were more WikiLeaks documents released of roughly a quarter million wires principally between emabassies.  Of interest is a large amount of security intel, policy, military strategy, and embarassing details about world government figures.  Of interest, it seems that North Korea did in fact provide Iran with the missile vehicles to launch nuclear warheads.  This is very disconcerting as it means that North Korea likely has the nuclear bomb and rockets to launch them in.

Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate whether Religion is good for the world or not.  I am inclined to think that religion, in the conventional sense of the word, is not good for the world.  I am also unsure what is meant by the word, “good” as well.  I would argue from different angles and presuppositions than Hitchens but likely arrive at similar conclusions.  I would be very happy if every religion based on human self-righteousness would permanently cease.  I don’t think anything is “good” apart from Christ, hence I think that all non-Christocentric religion is bunk.

Flexible, Disposable E-readers?

Should MIT Teach Poetry?”  I have already ranted on here about the affects of removing the Christian worldview on higher education (see post on UCF scandal).   The point is that our Universities have become trade schools.  Further, these trade schools are increasingly more expensive (astronomically expensive compared to inflation rates) while becoming less effective at producing marketable laborers.  For many employers experience is > or = to education.  If one’s education were limited to such a narrow sub-field of a field within a faculty within a college within a University… there is no foundation for the knowledge/building to stand.  Of course MIT should teach poetry.

Congressman Mike Coffman (Rep. Colorado) writes a cogent piece on why not to raise taxes during a recession. (HT: SB)

The Snake Eats Its Own Tail

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Protagoras (490-420 bc):  “Man is the measure of all things.”

Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, p. 69:

Such is the fate of all relativistic theories, ancient or modern.  They are self-destructive because self-contradictory.  When a pragmatist asserts the impossibility of attaining the absolute, when an instrumentalist with his emphasis on change deplores the dogmatism of unchanging truth, or when a Freudian dismisses conscious reasoning as hypocritical rationalization, he means to except his own view.  It is absolutely true that we miss the absolute; it is fixed truth that nothing is fixed; it is validly reasoned that reasoning is hypocrisy.  Objections to dogmatism are always dogmatic, and relativisms are always asserted absolutely.  For this the Man-measure theory must be rejected, and knowledge is shown to be other than perception.

Conan’s Farewell Address

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This was interesting, particularly the last 30 seconds.  Conan is a guy who made his career through physical and self-deprecating comedy.  I had not noticed that he never relied on cynicism, perhaps the only cynicism in his comedy was a self-cynicism.  I am not sure why I had not noticed this before but rarely do you find comedy that is not in some way rooted in cynicism or sarcasm.

Written by Michael Graham

January 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

J.C. Ryle on Novel, Spasmodic, and Hysterical Christianity

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Holiness by J.C. Ryle: An Absolute Classic in Christian Devotion

I came across this gem in the Introduction to his classic Holiness.

There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distated for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers.  Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true.  There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational, and exciting, and rousing to the feelings.  There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity.  The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the “meek and quiet spirit” which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten (1 Pet. 3:4).  Crowds, and crying, and hot rooms, and high flown singing, and incessant rousing of the emotions are the only things which many care for.  Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is “clever” and “earnest,” hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully “narrow and uncharitable” if you hint that he is unsound!

J.C. Ryle wrote this in 1877:  eerily prophetic, alarmingly true.  If you have not read Ryle’s Holiness, I strongly suggest you do.  In my opinion, it is the best book ever written on Christian devotion.

Written by Michael Graham

January 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

A.W. Tozer Critique of the “New Cross” of Popular Evangelicalism

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I ran across this quote from A.W. Tozer in his relatively unknown book, The Pursuit of Man.

But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament.  It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain.  The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them.  The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses.  The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.  The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter.

Tozer wrote this in 1950:  eerily prophetic, alarmingly true.

A.W. Tozer on “The Veil” that Keeps Us from Spiritual Progress

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The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer

There are few books that I purpose to re-read every year:  one of those few is The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer.  It is short but cuts straight to the heart.  The first three chapters alone are worth the price of the book.  Here is one of my favorite passages:

There is something more serious than coldness of the heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence.  What is it?  What but the presence of a veil in our hearts?  A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us.  It is the veil of our fleshley, fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated.  It is the close-woven veil of the self-life whihc we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross.  It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify.  We have but to look into our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress…

It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.  They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies their subtlety and their power.

To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.  They dwell to deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them.  The grosser manifestations of these sins – egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion – are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy.  They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel.

Guilty as charged, this passage is the main reason I re-read this book.  We are blessed beggars in God’s economy of grace.  May it convict you as it has me time and time again.

Convicting Gem from Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”

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Don't Waste Your Life: Click for the free PDF book

Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family.  So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud – just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend-woven around church (mostly).  This is life for millions of people.  Wasted life.  We were created for more, far more.  John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, ch. 7, pps. 119-120.

Ouch.  That hits close to home.  Full book available in PDF here.

Written by Michael Graham

January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

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