coats and ties off

Posting this here as it probably is too detailed for my thesis.  A member of Wanganui Central Baptist Church contributed the following memory of pumping the organ: “[W]ell do I remember keeping the bellows gauge up to ¾ mark for normal music.  But it was coats and ties off and full pressure for the “Doxology” or the Hallelujah Chorus.” (A.F. Woodbury, Pastors and People,, 90.)

Another memory described the organ pumping boys (pumping from outside the church) doing their duty for the opening singing, then making the usual lap round the block to the dairy, and then back in time to pump up the organ for the closing hymns.

same as always

It’s 12-12-12 today ((or was exactly 2,000 years ago to be pedantic)), and we are nearing the day (21-12-2012) which is heralded by some as something of an apocalypse and an end-of-the-world event.

Among other things, this highlights to me the reality that scientific discovery does not wipe out superstition.  People have always been superstitious and will always be.  Conversely, people have always denied any inherent purpose or meaning to the world – and they always will.

Science is great and helpful.  But I think Dallas Willard is spot on when he says “you can be very sure that nothing fundamental has changed in our knowledge of ultimate reality and the human self since the time of Jesus.” (The Divine Conspiracy, 106; emphasis original)

People wrongly think and speak as though at some point in history we learned some fact that forever sealed off the cosmos from any and all miracles; whereas the ancients, blissfully ignorant of this elusive fact we now know, had no other option.

In addition to ignoring the reality of ancient unbelief and scepticism, this way of thinking also misses the blindingly obvious truth that it’s psychologically and linguistically impossible to think or speak of a ‘super’-natural event if one has no idea of what a natural event is.  As Lewis said, when Joseph learned of Mary being pregnant, he was startled – not because he didn’t know how babies were conceived, but precisely because he did.

on jesus’ quiet resurrection

Q: Why does no Roman historian mention Jesus’ resurrection!?  Surely if something so extraordinary happened, they would have written about it!?

A: One thing we know about the period is that, from a Graeco-Roman perspective, bodily life after death would have been mocked ((i.e. the mixed response to Paul’s preaching of resurrection (Acts 17).)) and undesirable ((for example, see Plutarch on desirable mode of post-mortem departure “Yes, it [the soul] comes from them, and to them it returns, not with its body, but only when it is most completely separated and set free from the body, and becomes altogether pure, fleshless, and undefiled. For ‘a dry soul is best,’ according to Heracleitus, and it flies from the body as lightning flashes from a cloud. But the soul which is contaminated with body, and surfeited with body, like a damp and heavy exhalation, is slow to release itself and slow to rise towards its source.” [source])).  This is why the Gospel (to which the Resurrection of Jesus is an essential and central) was “foolishness to the Greeks” (1 Corinthians 1).  Also, they wouldn’t have had much concern over what happened in Jerusalem, that comparatively small city which was so significant to those of that Jewish religion which they tolerated so mercifully.  A typical first-century mocking response to the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection might be something like: “Oh really… then why does all the power, authority, glory and riches still lie with Caesar in Rome?  Silly Jew…”

theory & practice

They’re meant to reinforce one another.

I just had lunch with a friend, and we talked about how much fun it was learning the 5 different fretboard patterns of pentatonic (five-tone) scales on the guitar.  When his practice was less developed, music theory had seemed boring and irrelevant to him, but now it was exciting and directly relevant.

It’s like this with just about anything you do, isn’t it?  There is a theoretical side to just about everything you can do.  Advanced mathematical formulae will help you do all kinds of science, but can seem irrelevant for the amateur lover of the natural world.  The study of history will aid healthy analysis of political swings and round-a-bouts, but can seem tedious to the armchair politician.  Etymology will help one choose the choicest words in your literary endeavors, but sound high-browed and lofty.  Analytic philosophy will help one to interact with ideas more efficiently, but sound like a pedantic waste of time.  Systematic theology will shape and enrich a life of worshipful obedience, but seem like detached speculation.