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Archive for April, 2010

Death is turned back on a morning like this one.

If the witch had truly understood the deep magic, we are told in the cinematic paraphrase of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, she might have interpreted the deep magic rather differently.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24)

Hell’s formidable genius is unable correctly to decipher the meaningful scrawlings of truth. The witch and all who follow her are outwitted on Easter Sunday. Aslan is no longer dead, though his death was most real. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. (more…)

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When Jesus’ disciples ask him for training in prayer, he has just finished praying. Presumably they are moved to pray because the sight of Jesus in conversation with his Father stimulates them to desire the same.

It would seem, then, that the thing Jesus instructs his disciples to ask for is what he himself has been requesting.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.’”

We are told to ask the Father that his reputation might be set apart as untouchable and untarnished. As well, we learn to desire that his rule might be realized in our space and time as it is known to prevail even now in heaven. (more…)

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The Bible regularly privileges hearing over seeing.

From time to time the priority of audition over vision is hammered home from complementary angles. On the one hand, Israel is commanded to listen. On the other, she is forbidden to craft a visual representation of her speaking Lord.

“Then Moses and the levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying: Keep silence and hear, O Israel! This very day you have become the people of the LORD your God. Therefore obey the LORD your God, observing his commandments and his statutes that I am commanding you today. The same day Moses charged the people as follows: When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim for the blessing of the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. Then the Levites shall declare in a loud voice to all the Israelites:
Cursed be anyone who makes an idol or casts an image
, anything abhorrent to the LORD, the work of an artisan, and sets it up in secret.” All the people shall respond, saying, “Amen!””

Context makes clear that the forbidden idol here is not merely a hidden—that is to say, extra-official—image, but any image shaped to present YHWH to human eyes.

The logic of this persistent privileging of the ear over the eye as the organ of choice for a new nation is not too difficult to discern. Israel’s ongoing proximity to her redeeming Lord demands a mental, an intellectual grappling with his person and his presence. Clearly, both ear and eye are organs of sense, so the affirmation of the value of hearing YHWH and the prohibition of seeing him does not reduce to a mere preference for the abstract over the sensual. The distinction is not so much one of kind as of degree. (more…)

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As we speak, my oldest son beavers away at a history degree at a fine university in this country’s Pacific Northwest. Our telephone conversations and Spring Break bike rides on Indy’s wonderful Monon Trail are punctuated by discussions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the continuing relevance of Plato’s Republic as well as the merits of road over mountain bikes and the fitness benefits of pushing along really fat tires.

Why history? Because First Son’s strong but uneven education at the British School of Costa Rica brought him into contact with the curmudgeonly but brilliant and engaged ‘Mr Wolf’, an historian with a stubborn and inelegant fixation on making history relevant for high school students in what others of his ilk might have dismissed as an intellectual and cultural backwater. (more…)

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On the rough outer orbit of two of the worst evenings of my just over half-century of accumulated life, I find myself after a good day’s work in the company of a kindred spirit over good steak, crowned with two fine scallops, adorned with something red.

How can such pain mingle so seamlessly with such hilarity, such good company, such joy?

Cast me gently into morning, for the night has been unkind.

—Sarah McLachlan

Those of us nursed and nourished on good decades are, arguably, poorly prepared for anguish, for loss.

We have no precedent for the madness, for the illogic, for the unbending chaos that comes on the lips of those we have loved, those whom we would love still if we were permitted.

What do we do then? (more…)

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