Thursday, October 30, 2008

Treasury of Daily Prayer

It has arrived.

What I like best:

My other volumes of daily devotions consist of scripture followed by a meditation written by the author of the devotion. This volume's meditations consist, apropos of the readings, of quotes from such sources as: Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz, Tertullian, Walther, Hugh of St. Victor (yes!), Cyril of Jerusalem, Thomas a Kempis (!), and that old Cappadocian, Gregory of Nazianzus, among a host of other witnesses.

Did I mention Martin Luther?

The daily structure of the devotions:
OT Reading--extensive
NT Reading--extensive
Writing (commentary)
Prayer of the Day
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord.

There is a section containing the various daily liturgies: Matins, Vespers, Compline, etc.
The Psalms are included in their entirety.
Prayers for the Baptismal Life--wonderful title!--include a range of prayers for life's many situations and complications.

The editors scattered quotes from hymns and the church fathers throughout the book. An example, p. 1320:

The sea of this world lies between where we are going, even though we have already seen where we are going. And what has God done? He has provided the wood by which we may cross the sea. For no one can cross the sea of the world unless carried by the cross of Christ.
-Augustine, tractatus in evangelium Ioannis 2.2
There is much more to please the eye and heart. Overall, very nicely done. If you can swing the price, get yours in leather. For a more detailed and comprehensive review, see here.

Is It Possible... argue in an arc so miniscule that people don't realize...'re arguing in a circle?

I've been having this recurring thought it might be so.
Let the smart aleck comments commence.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Ideology of Cancellation

"The ideology of cancelation is the conviction that the happiness of peoples and the progress of nations require the cancelation of everything born of the traditional order: fatherland, family, morals, upbringing, identity. These are the legacy of a dark and retrograde world. This liquidation of the past will not be carried out in the old way--with red banners flying and heads mounted on stakes. Such methods will no longer do, because they frighten the masses. What we are faced with is a movement soft and gentle in appearance, heavily cloaked in ritual invocations of dialogue and peace. This "sub-revolution" does not focus on the structure that holds up state power--the economy, the military--but pays attention instead to the true foundations of collective life: belief systems, customs, education. The nation is a decaying concept; the family is an institution from the past; religion is a superstition; morality is but a question of perspective; the law should adjust to circumstances. This is the mind-set that is being imposed on Spain from the corridors of power."
Chronicles magazine has an article in its current edition written by Spanish journalist Jose Javier Esparza, entitled SPAIN EMBRACES CHANGE .

Until the last sentence, you may have thought we were talking about the second term of President Barack Obama. But Spain has had a twenty year head start on socialism, and is in the forefront of defining its latest incarnation.

Esparza describes the Three Lefts as seen throughout the 20Th century up until now. The First Left was "revolutionary and red": Russia in 1917, Spain in 1934, 36; "The First Left ended up drowning in a bloodbath of the Gulag and the Cheka."

The Second Left, per Esparza, was reformist and white: "...the British Labor movement, Swedish and German social decomcracies...Its paradise was Sweden. The Second Left collapsed and died, a casualty of the mere inability to keep up the level of public spending required by the welfare state..."

The Third Left has risen out of the ashes of its grandparents and parents. "Its great challenge is to construct a new theoretical paradigm...[it took] its inspiration...from the Sexual Revolution, the Latin American insurgency,...libertarian pipe dreams..."

The author argues that this socialist ideology made its first appearance in the West during the '60's. Stop me if you've heard this before somewhere. The therapeutic relaxation of traditional values is well advanced in our own society and throughout the west.
"The condemnation of history brings with it an implicit messianic hope: If things have been this way until today, it is now up to the left to effect change, to return us to the righteous path. And the disintegration of Spain will not be called such, but rather an improvement in harmony; and a pact with terrorists will not be called a capitulation, but a message of peace."
Esparza concludes (bold print mine):
"This mind set has every potential to take root in other societies--wherever the people do not know who they are and where they are going. It is the instinct to surrender to the barbarian, a phenomenon observed in all historical instances of decay; today, it is spreading throughout Europe. This instinct first arises in the privileged classes and may be described as an inclination to back down in the face of an external threat. Here, the fear of losing what one possesses enters into the equation, as does a certain kind of guilty conscience, a disquieting feeling of having benefited from some injustice. Thus, frequently, we hear cries that "They're not so bad," or "Aren't we the ones who pose the real threat?" At this point, the only thing left to do is to throw open the gates."

We aren't here yet, are we? And Obama himself probably does not have aspirations to take us there, at least directly. But the point is: these things are being painstakingly planned. There is an agenda that is leading us to be lulled asleep, to "forget who we are and where we are going". Those who wish these things upon us are in positions of great power. Esparza makes the case that Spain's political leadership is full steam ahead to establish a new kind of Socialism, a third great experiment which is NOT at all akin to the great American experiment.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

American Electioneering

Mark Steyn:

According to newspaper reports, polls show that most people believe newspaper reports claiming that most people believe polls showing that most people have read newspaper reports agreeing that polls show he’s going to win.
This isn't just nonsense. It is actually a strategy.
Steyn goes on:
I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls “a point of no return”. It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, “Jimmy Carter’s second term”, but something far more transformative.
I've been one of those thinking it'll be Jimmy The Second. The more I read, not just about Obama, but about the kinds of tactics the people following in his wake undertake, I am tending to agree with Mark Steyn agreeing with Thomas Sowell. It is just a bit scary.
Peggy Noonan thinks a President Obama will be like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it: Now what?

Ah. They're just a bunch of reactionary conservatives.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

There Will Be Oil

The World's oil reserves total around 1, 240 billion barrels.
That's enough to keep us buzzing off to the quick stop in our guzzlers for another fifty years, at today's usage. Of course "today's usage" ought to go down as we find more efficient ways to burn oil, but it is a workable number anyway.

But wait. Within the last six months, both Venezuela and Iraq have increased their estimated oil reserves, to the tune of 30 billion barrels each.

And now Cuba has announced that they have "discovered" that their oil reserves are double what they previously thought, according to a BBC report. They now claim to have a 20 billion barrel reserve.

Lubos Motl, a Czech physicist and blogger, has some interesting perspectives on the idea that the world is running short of its most important economic commodity.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pay Grades

"Obama has said that the abortion question is "above his pay grade." What is actually the case is that simple honesty on the issue is above his pay grade."

Doug Wilson, from his Blog and Mablog


In September on a trip to the Yucutan, we visited the city of Izamal, which lies to the west on the way to Merida. It is an historic city, whose buildings tend to be painted yellow, as the monastery is in the above photo. This area has a more pronounced Hispanic influence than the largely Mayan area where we stayed, in Ek Balam.

We visited on a very hot Sunday, and arrived in time for the Catholic Mass in the monastery, a service which was well attended and included a choir in the balcony with guitar accompaniment.

A beautiful crucifix greeted us, inside the enormous wooden doors at the back of the sanctuary. So. Christ can be found in this place.

This is the front of the sanctuary. Note the little alcoves for a variety of saints and popes. Note the large empty alcove at top, center.
At the beginning of the divine service, bells rang, and two doors at the back of the empty alcove opened. Ceremoniously, regally, the queen of heaven--Theotokos, theVirgin Mary --slowly processed forward through the doors and to the front of the alcove. It left little doubt as to Who we were worshipping that morning.

Here is the crowned queen Herself, the crown having actually been put on her head by a recent Pope.

At the end of the service, bells again rang, and the Virgin then slowly recessed back out of the alcove, past the doors, which then mechanically shut. We learned later that, mechanically, the statue of the Virgin would rotate 180 degrees, and face a smaller chapel at the back and above the main sanctuary, where the devoted could go to get more serious Virgin facetime

Here is the smaller chapel, which has wonderful paintings of the life of Christ surrounding the large alcove where Mary spends Her downtime.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


ANKE, snuffing snow

Robin came up with this picture from last Winter. That, ladies and gents, is a happy dog. Or lion. Or wolf.


...And if not, who or what can you trust? (Gullible Christian Alert: this is what we would call a rhetorical question.)

Here is an interesting evaluation of polling and what it means. It is entitled The Left's Big Blunder.

A quip:
In 2008 there is no silent majority: there is the silenced majority. The unpolled majority. The media is so pro-Obama that the views and the concerns of McCain supporters are for the most part ignored or, at best, mocked. The goal is to foster disillusionment among them, a sense of isolation. To trick the Republicans into all staying home on election day because "there's no hope of winning." Maybe the Democrats can't avoid a showdown on November 4, but if they can convince enough McCain supporters to individually "fold" and not vote at all, then Obama can carry the day.
Of course, you can't trust polls. And yet politicians rule by them, true believers hang on those precious numbers, opinions are swayed by them, and elections are won by them. The USA Today newspaper got its start by putting a poll on its front page every day (I haven't read a USA Today for years, so don't know if this is still a practice). It got so Doonesbury ran a series entitled, "We're eating more prunes!" as a parody of the sorts of silly polls that paper would run. Of course, poll-following tends to be a self-fulfilling sort of activity, and we are now a nation of poll followers. It is soft-porn gambling: a low-grade thrill ride for a nation of people who just "like to watch", a la Chauncey Gardner.

End of rant.

HT to Bi-Coloured Python.

POST SCRIPT: A nice followup to the article linked here can be found here.


Bavarian monks brewed strong bach beers to sustain them during Lent?
That sounds like cheating to me. But then, Cesar Chavez ate Kosher crackers and downed RC Cola during his protest fasts, so I guess a little cheating when it comes to long-term fasts is perhaps traditional.

The New York Times (HT to Get Religion) has an article about the 27th Great American Beer Festival here. It talks about how often beer and religion have been intertwined.

Any good German-American Lutheran (I am, I guess, an ingraft) knows this in his bones. We use beer to sustain us through good times and bad; through fasting, gluttony, liturgy, and long, winter bowling leagues.

I'm wondering if this brewer however, perhaps because he is not religious, has crossed a line:
Cilurzo's latest creation, Consecration, was a festival hit and an answered prayer -- a richly textured sour ale aged for nine months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with black currants.
That's...that's just wrong.

Univeral Health Care Fascism

The DarkMarket Side

You know, of course, that the internet is a sewage dump of porn, spam, and other unedifying garbage. It isn't so often that you get an inside look at the Underworld that operates throughout the world on the World Wide Web.

Maybe you don't want to know. Perhaps it is enough to know that you can
Sleep Tight Tonight;
Your FBI Is Awake.

Wired News has this article about a recent sting operation carried out by a cyberfunction unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The sting was worldwide, and hints at how the FBI has to work with the law enforcement agencies of various countries in order to close the deal.

Read it here.

A little taste:

The FBI almost certainly closed DarkMarket in preparation for a global wave of arrests that will unfold in the next month or so. The site was likely shuttered to avoid an Agatha Christie scenario in which a diminishing pool of cybercrooks are free to speculate about why they're disappearing one-by-one like the hapless dinner guests in Ten Little Indians.
I love it. Agatha Christie. The FBI reads crime novels?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crimson Tide

You know, the submarine flick. The captain (Gene Hackman) and the XO (played by Denzel Washington) are on deck just before submerging.
Hackman offers Washington a cigar.

"I don't trust air I can't see."

Actually, the movie's protaganist is Washington, playing a highly educated and civilized black Naval officer who has philosophical differences with the purposes of the weapon--a nuclear submarine carrying thermonuclear warheads--he is serving on .

I found myself supporting Hackman'a character, a crusty old timer who was one of the few submarine captains left-- so goes the script-- that had actually served in a fighting war. The movie is actually very good because the tension between the two excellent main actors is so well portrayed. Unfortunately, it ends up siding with what I'd call an Obamaesque approach to war: so utterly philosophically marinated that no actual military decision can be made, except perhaps the surgical, scalpel-like approach of ramming a Tomahawk missile down a camel's throat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“They want us to leave, and they want us to stay — and they can’t have both.”

Hat Tip to The-Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

Jay Nordlinger of NR has been in Iraq, blogging about what he sees there.
A few snippets:
As I listen to this briefing, some thoughts occur to me — thoughts of a general nature. We are doing so very much. Have foreigners ever done so much for a country? The Iraqis are lucky to be looked after in this way. Many other countries would kill for it. I think of the title of one of Fouad Ajami’s books: “The Foreigner’s Gift.” That’s putting it mildly. Of course, “we broke it, we have to fix it,” right? The country was broken — tyrannized and aggressive — before. We are changing it.
In talking to a major in Baghdad:
I ask what, for me, is a standard question: How do Iraqis feel about our presence — the presence of the coalition? She gives what is certainly the right answer: “They want us to leave, and they want us to stay — and they can’t have both.” They want us to leave, because it’s their country. But they want us to stay, because of what might ensue if we left.
And finally this:
May I make a general observation? I think it many times, during this trip: If the American taxpayer saw things in action over here, he’d be very pleased — pleased that his money was being well spent.

You should read the whole journal, and Evan at T-B-P-R-S has lined it up for you.

One out of every ten light bulbs in America is now being lit by a former Soviet weapon!

It says so right here.

Actually, this is an article about the safe and sane use of nuclear power. It is a very compelling argument, with more detail than is normally found, and lay-friendly to boot.

To cut to the chase, anticipating your "But...but...but...!", a snippet:

All of France’s nuclear waste from 25 years of producing 75 percent of its electricity is stored beneath the floor of one room at Le Hague. The lifetime output for each French citizen would fit in a soda can. That’s what the incredible energy density of nuclear power can do for the environment.
If you want to see what it'll take to provide America with sufficient electricity to continue to have the world's strongest economy, as well as a cool comparison between nuclear and every other known source of large-scale energy production, read the article.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Driving around Madison, WI, it is apparent from the LAWN SIGNS that there is a presidential race going on.

Judging from the signs, the race is between Obama/Biden, and someone called ForSaleByOwner.

Obama appears to be winning by a 4/1 margin.

No McCain/Palin signs in evidence anywhere.

Although I know my friend Tim Gies is sporting one on his lawn.
Actually, a friendly local liberal keeps running over it with his bicycle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The JUNIAS Conspiracy

Also in Touchstone this month, a review by John Hunwicke of another book purporting to prove that the Junia of Romans 16:7 was The First Female Apostle.

"Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."
Romans 16:7

This is a fun read even if, like me, you don't read koine Greek. A snippet:

"...Our culture is one in which any new theory, fantasy, or piece of potential evidence that appears to cast doubt on the authenticity of traditional Christianity is welcomed and is sold on to the secular media within hours; anything that might run the risk of bolstering it is buried. Now there's a real conspiracy."

This quote comes on the heels of several examples, as you might expect, of solid but contradictory evidence against the Academy's modern take on the canon.

Look, I don't know if Hunwicke is right. I'm just a guy in the pew, trying to find which page the Psalm-of-the-day is on. I couldn't fight my way out of a philological paper bag. It would probably take several back-and-forths between the author and the author he's arguing against before any real conclusions could be drawn.

But it's a fun read.

...civilized, republican, and Christian

Peter Leithart has a little blurb in the most recent Touchstone journal entitled Techno-Triumphalism, which reads in part:

"...Daniel Walker Howe quotes an 1850 Methodist women's magazine's ecstasies over the telegraph: 'This noble invention is to be the means of extending civilization, republicanism, and Christianity over the earth. It must and will be extended to nations half-civilized, and thence to those now savage and barbarous. Our government will be the grand center of this mighty influence...The beneficial and harmonious operation of our institutions will be seen, and similar ones adopted. Christianity must speedily follow them, and we shall behold the grand spectacle of a whole world, civilized, republican, and Christian...Wars will cease from the earth...Then shall come to pass the millennium.' "

The millenium indeed. Or, well. The Civil War.

What caught my eye was how "the beneficial and harmonious operation of our institutions will be seen, and similar ones adopted.." I am aware that Christianity of one stripe or another more or less speedily followed, but can't help but think that Our Global Economy is really the descendant of that magazine's prophetic vision.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I heard Mr. Obama's plea for support of the government bailout that is enjoying so much support in Washington and on Wall Street and by golly all over the world all of a sudden.

It was on the radio; I'm driving; I don't have a Tivo rewind button so this is from memory:

"We are our brother's keeper! That is how we've always moved forward in this country!"

I'm just guessing, but he may be quoting from the Revised Standard Jeremiah Wright Version of the New Testament.