Category Archives: God

A Farewell And A Remembrance

It has been two weeks now since I learned that Zippy Catholic, or Matthew to those who knew him outside this part of the web, had passed away. When I first learned about it I knew that I had to write a post in tribute to him. But for the past two weeks I have been unable to do so. Nothing I could think of seemed fitting. But I cannot put it off any longer. So here is my best attempt at my thoughts on Zippy/Matthew, unworthy as they are.


It is no joke that finding the ‘sphere was a monumental point in my life. It began a series of changes within my life which radically altered the path that I have taken since. The ‘sphere forced me to examine many, no, most of my core beliefs. And as a result many of those beliefs have changed (and I would like to think for the better). Others have become firmer, and my conviction more resolute. I could count on one hand the number of individuals who were part of the reason for that massive shift in world-view. And Zippy, no, Matthew, would be one of them.

Matthew forced me to examine everything I believed about politics. He forced me to examine core concepts like authority and power. He turned over rocks in my mind I didn’t even know existed, and forced me to look at the things which crawled out from beneath them. I cannot look at the subject as I did before, because I cannot deny the truths he laid out in front of me.

Matthew’s style was not for everyone. Many, many, many people found it quite off-putting. But they failed to understand his approach. Matthew was not some soft school-teacher who gently guided his students through lesson after lesson. No, Matthew was a wizened old sensei, a teacher who would not hesitate to slap a student who failed or was out of line. He didn’t hold back his thoughts or his wit or his tongue. If there was anyone who fit the epitome of this proverb better, I don’t know who:

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

(Proverbs 27:17)

He expected his students to do their homework- to follow his points back to their origin and know where they started so they could understand where he was and why. Every lesson was not a repeat of what had gone before, but something new, either in angle or context or subject. Furthermore, he knew how to use examples to get at people in ways that upset them. I rather imagine that he and Jonathan Swift would have gotten along, at least in their style. Many missed the point, but that was on them and not Zippy.

I haven’t met many people from the ‘sphere, in truth only a couple, but there were some I hoped to meet in the future and Matthew was one of them. Now any meeting will have to be in the next life. But until then I will keep what he taught me in mind. Which is more than just what to think, or even how to think, but start thinking in the first place- about everything. Before I ran across Matthew there were too many things I took for granted, and never thought about. Not so much any more. That is a gift I cannot repay him for. But if I learned anything about him, he would find payment in my using it to the best of my abilities.

I know there is more I should say, but I still cannot put it to words. I will leave it at this, and hope it is enough. Goodbye Zippy, you will be missed.

 

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The Hour Of Victory

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

(John Chrysostom’s Paschal Homily)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
    he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,
    they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

(Psalm 23)

 

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Guarding The Stone… And Heart

Holy Saturday is a day like no other. Not exactly a day of mourning, and not exactly a day of joy. Rather, the day seems to me to be quite like a rather long instance of holding one’s breath. It is a day of waiting, where Creation itself pauses in anticipation of what is to come.

Interestingly, there is only one short Gospel passage which addresses this day, from Matthew:

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

(Matthew 27:62-66)

It makes sense that Matthew’s Gospel would address this, however. It was written primarily for a Jewish audience, and so those who heard the Gospel would have had questions. They would have heard what the Jewish leaders later said about these events, and so we have this passage here to help explain it. Coupled with the other parts, of course, after the resurrection.

What is important to note, though, is that the Jewish leaders  and Pharisees set a seal on the stone. The stone was not the stone that bound Jesus, however. It was the stone that was their heart. They had closed themselves off to the power and mercy of God. And they let nothing attempt to break through to reach them. Let us not follow in their example.

 

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Inconvenience and Deliverance

12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16 We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
23 for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

(Wisdom 2:12-24)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
    and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
    in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
    scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
    they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
    let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
    you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
    and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls encircle me,
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth[a] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs are all around me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;[b]
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
    O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my life[c] from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued[d] me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;[e]
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
    stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
    the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,[f]
    but heard when I[g] cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor[h] shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before him.[i]
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 To him,[j] indeed, shall all who sleep in[k] the earth bow down;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    and I shall live for him.[l]
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and[m] proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
    saying that he has done it.

(Psalm 22)

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Shoot The Messenger

Dalrock has been on a roll lately in his take down of one “Pastor Wilson.” See the two most recent posts, here and here.  The most recent post was inspired, in part, by an attempt to defend Wilson from those assailing him. The thing is, I can understand why someone might defend him. At least from a Protestant perspective, he is normally pretty good about standing up for (Protestant notions) of the Truth. Most of what he teaches is close, or even spot on. One might be tempted to argue that we shouldn’t tear him apart if he manages to get one or two things wrong.

However, this defense is misplaced. The fact that someone like him gets so close and yet fails is what makes him dangerous. How so?

Well, to begin with he makes the errors he defends seem that much more reasonable to the unaware. After all, if Wilson defends something, and since he is such a stand up guy, it has to be correct, right? The fact that he is right, say, 95% of the time means that people will be more likely to accept that 5% of error without thinking.

Second, he makes it harder to actually defend or teach the truth. Opponents (feminists, etc.) can point out to him, and say something along the lines of “even Pastor Wilson disagrees with what you are saying.” Thus they can push anyone who tries to tell the truth out of the periphery, labeling them as “truly extreme.”

There are probably other reasons as well which I am forgetting, but both of those suffice for the situation. Keep in mind also that these are not periphery issues. Rebellion, especially female rebellion, is one of the principal crises afflicting the church right now. It can only be solved when it is fulled exposed and explained. And messengers like Wilson are getting in the way of that.

I believe that until men like Wilson are dealt with, there really is no chance of “fixing” what is wrong with the Church in the West. Unless they are converted to the truth, or cast down from their high places, they will be effective obstacles to reform. Of course, my readers can offer their own thoughts on the manner. I encourage them to do so, as I wonder if others share these views.

[Much of this post is more oriented towards Protestants than it is Catholic or Orthodox Christians. But everyone is free to chime in.]

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Market Analysis: Collective Bargaining

This post is a continuation of my Market Analysis series, which began in my post Market Watch. In today’s post I want to examine and discuss in greater detail this observation that I made:

Too many people are doing too little to make marriage happen these days. Marriage needs to be a matter for the whole community.

I have two general areas I want to examine here. The first to look at is the community angle. The second is about making marriage happen.

Starting with community, there is a saying about how “it takes a village” which I think is appropriate here.

Marriage is a communal effort. Everyone in the community is involved in ensuring that it works. When the community isn’t supportive of marriage in general, and marriages in particular, then you get what we have today: tons of divorces and a crashing marriage rate.

Looking back at my quote, I had it wrong. I shouldn’t have said “Marriage needs to be a matter for the whole community,” but instead should have said “Marriage is a matter for the whole community.” Whatever we say or think about it, that simple fact cannot be changed any more than human nature can be changed. We are social beings, and our social environment impacts all of our relationships.

The marriage market cannot be healthy unless the community is supportive of it. When that support is withdrawn, then our baser natures will assert themselves. Thus we end up with the sexual marketplace instead. I suppose, to continue with market metaphors, that the marriage market can be described as a fairly regulated market which, absent those regulations, will quickly turn into a real mess.

Let’s expand that first sentence somewhat. What does “make marriage happen” actually mean? I can think of a number of things:

  • Encourage young people to marry verbally- that is, talk to them and spur them towards marriage if that is their calling.
  • Publicly talk about the benefits of marriage and how wonderful it is or can be, especially around young people.
  • Stop badmouthing marriage- eliminate the griping and negative attitude that is so often expressed. [At the same time efforts need to be made to address the source of these woes. But keep it below the radar]
  • Provide financial support and incentives to young people to marry.
  • Discourage and admonish against individualist attitudes which lead young people away from marriage (careerism, travelism, etc.)
  • Rebuke and punish those who break up marriages or treat them flippantly.
  • Reassure young people that the community will have their back during rough spots in the marriage.
  • Promote life and the unique blessing that is children.

Those are just a few ideas I have come up with while thinking about it. I invite my readers to offer their thoughts on the subject. This post is less developed because I am hoping many of you can propel the discussion forward, hopefully towards directions I haven’t thought of.

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Christ is Risen!

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)

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