Saturday, June 24, 2006

Au Revoir

I'm disappearing until July 5th. Today I have a bridal shower and a church social, then tomorrow right after church I go pick up my friend Emily from the airport :). She's staying until Thursday evening, but then the next morning my family is driving up to Indiana until July 4th. As you can see, blogging is just not going to be on my "to-do" list for the next several days. I will be on e-mail occasionally over the next 5 days or so, but not blogger.

Sadly, I still haven't blogged on the WCF conference I attended earlier this week :(. I hope to blog a bit on that when I return. Our computer has been strange the last week or so, and I haven't had access to my blog tracking software for a few days. I hope to have it reinstalled when I return, so I can peruse blogs again with greater ease. Until then, au revoir!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Price of Beauty

One memorable scene from Tuck Everlasting is a short discussion between Winnie and her mother over fashion and beauty:

Mrs. Foster: [while strapping Winnie into a corset] You must suffer to be beautiful, so say the French.

Winnie: The French are crazy.

We can laugh at the attempts of women in past centuries to beautify themselves, going to great lengths for that smaller waist or whiter complexion or rosier cheeks. They did highly dangerous things, drinking poisonous concoctions, deforming ribs, stifling themselves in summer. But the coupling (and perceived necessity) of beauty and suffering did not die out in the Victorian Era. In fact, I think it has only gotten worse. Mother Dear sent me the links to two recent MSNBC articles on "killer fashion." It is truly amazing to read of some of the lengths women will go to to achieve a desired image:

“The clothes might be torturing you, but you become used to it,” she says. “The heels, the tight skirt, it all becomes a part of your life. They put you in pain, but you think, ‘No, it’s worth it.’”

"I have a pair of stilettos I call my disco ball shoes — across the toe is a strip of tiny mirrored squares. I love these shoes, but the last time I wore them I lost the feeling in my toes for about two weeks."

"I have many tortures: curling iron burns on my forehead and neck, skin torn off my feet where shoes rubbed, chafing and rash from sequins rubbing my underarms while I played percussion and sang in bands. But ... I can still do high kicks and deep knee bends in 6-inch platforms. Rock on!"

"Thirty years in "highest" heels have destroyed the cartilage in my toes and my knees, leaving me with arthritis and flat shoes. Sometimes, I can still get into a 1-inch heel that has good support. Pain finally won out over fashion."

To read the full stories, see here and here.

It's easy to get caught up, as a young woman, in the obsession with beauty in our society. It's so easy to forget that the most important kind (and the lasting kind) of beauty comes from within, and can only be wrought by God's working in our lives. That kind of beauty also comes through pain, but it is a joyful pain, a pain of refining, as our old self is heated and cleared of impurities to reveal Christ's image. Hmmm, perhaps, after all, the French were right: we really do have to suffer to be beautiful.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Inferiority Complex?

Apologies to anyone else who is going through new-post-on-Susan's-blog withdrawal like Ashley. Sheesh. I can't go three days of no posting without being badgered. *rolls eyes dramatically*

Monday and Tuesday was the Westminster Confession of Faith conference, which I thoroughly enjoyed :). More to come on that later. Between the conference and our epileptic computer, I haven't been doing much blog drafting recently. It is highly annoying to be typing on a computer and have it seize up and black out on you periodically, with no reason!

Today I was looking at a wad of papers that I found tucked in one of my grandfather's books - presumably some old sermon notes. It was fun to read through his sermon and I found the following anecdote on the "inferiority complex" to be interesting:

Have you read the late Dorothy Thompson's answer to Frank Lloyd Wright when he said that public rooms should be only about 12 feet high so that people in them would not have to feel inferior or insignificant?

Miss Thompson replied, "The GI Joes Whom I saw standing awestruck in the Salisbury Cathedral, or watching the robed procession climb the vast stairs of Canterbury, or kneeling under the lofty arches of Notre Dame, or staring upward in St. Peter's at Michelangelo's immense dome were not feeling insignificant. On the contrary they were realizing that life has a grandeur and a beauty and a significance above and beyond themselves that wakened in them high aspiration. The terrible heresy of our time is that everything must be keyed down to our understanding. . . lest we get an inferiority complex. Books must be written in the language of the gutter. The height of inspiration must be put not over twelve feet; one must not expect him to life his eyes beyond his own stature."

She goes on to say, "This is scientific dribble. Every boy or girl, wants to be something better than he is and other than the mass. They do not want a ceiling put over their life. Emerson did not advocate a twelve-foot ceiling when he said, "Hitch your wagon to a star." He knew the wagon would never reach the star, but it would stay out of the gutter.

The height to which we grow is communsurate with our vision. Set our ceiling at only 12 feet and we will eventually be living underground.

Now, I would like to clarify that (a) I don't know who Dorothy Thompson is, (b) I'm not guaranteeing that I accurately quoted her (since I'm merely pulling from an old sermon manuscript), and (c) her comment seems to have a humanistic flavor. But it is still something to consider.

We often, in the Christian life as well as the secular world, dumb things down out of fear for the "inferiority complex." We don't want to to challenge a kid too much in school, or his self-esteem may suffer. We don't want to attempt to read a difficult piece of literature like The Count of Monte Cristo, because it is "above us." We remove our children from the preaching of the Word, not wanting to bore or confuse them with all that "dry and difficult theology." Yet scripture is full of commands to strive for higher things, even unreachable things. We are to strive for perfection; how's that for a comforting goal? As C.S. Lewis said, Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.

If all we ever search for is that which we know is attainable, what a miserable existence we will live. I am most comforted in my Christian walk, not by seeing other forgiven sinners tripping along the road of sanctification, but by seeing the perfect holiness of God. Like Dorothy Thompson's account of the GI Joes, when I get even a small glimpse of the true character of God, I suddenly realize that life has a grandeur and a beauty and a significance above and beyond myself. There is a higher purpose, a bigger plan. It's not all about me. And it's comforting, not frightening or stifling. How's that for an inferiority complex?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

A barely-not-too-late Happy Father's Day to Father Dear! This was supposed to be posted earlier, but ah well :). For those of you who are fans of Sister Dear's writings, here is her latest, in honor of our Dear Father :).

~~~~

Math man Joe (he's the man!): tall, jolly, brownies in one hand and a calculator in the other; he's always ready for whatever problems may come his way.

As our story opens, Math Man Joe is at his desk at school, absorbed in figuring out a beautiful math problem. The hum of the students in the room working diligently on their homework serves as delightful background music to our Hero's ears. Math Man Joe takes a small respite in order to enjoy a bite of brownie as he looks over the heads of his beloved students. Suddenly a student rushes in the room, followed by a teacher. "Math Man, we have a PROBLEM!" gasps the student, named Bill, whose face shows the overwhelming enormity of the problem. The students in the room pause from their work, nervous and afraid. The teacher who has just entered with the student stands a few feet off, trembling and sweating.

Math Man Joe, always composed, puts his brownie down and takes up his calculator and says, "Never fear, Math Man is here!" The students cheer and wait expectantly to see what will happen next.

Bill, who has caught his breath by now but still looks a little wild with fright, dramatically says, "Our... calculators... won't... work!" The teacher behind him utters a small groan and hangs his head in despair.

Math Man Joe collects his thoughts and asks, "What do you mean they won't work? Do they need new batteries?"

"No, we tried new batteries, but they refuse to work. They're very tired and say they don't have the energy to compute anymore. I was almost done with a problem when my calculator went to sleep, and I still don't know what 2 + 3 is! Oh, whatever shall we do?!"

Bill handed his TI-89 calculator to Math Man Joe to prove what he had just said.

Sure enough, when Math Man tries to turn on the calculator, the calculator reads: "Leave me alone. I want to sleep. ZZZzzzzz..."

"Do not fear, all is not lost," says Math Man Joe. "You can compute a whole bunch of numbers by yourself, without a calculator!" Bill's mouth dropped open and the teacher gasps and says in a reprimanding tone, "Math Man, you can't mean it! These kids can't do it themselves! That's too much for them to handle!"

Math Man, however, stands by what he has said and repeats, "You can do it by yourself! Bill and Bill's teacher, watch this," and turning to his class, he asks, "Class, what is 2 + 3?" They all chime in together and answer, "5, Mr. Math Man Joe!"

Bill's teacher stammers, "Ho.. ho... how could they do that without a calculator?"

Proudly Math Man Joe commands his whole class to go to Bill's class and teach the students how to add themselves, without a calculator. "I, will stay here and work with these calculators and see if I can wake them up," says Math Man as his students hurry out of his room, eager to share the joys of math with fellow students trapped in the bondage of dependence on their calculators. Math Man hears one of his students say to Bill as they headed out the door, "Oh, Bill, there is such freedom in doing computations by yourself! I am so glad to get to teach you!"

Math Man smiles and chuckles slightly as he examines Bill's calculator. "Hmmm... " he thinks. "I wonder."

At the end of the period, all of the students from both classes pile into Math Man Joe's room, talking about math equations and solving them in their heads. Bill's teacher is astounded. "I have to hand it to you, Math Man. I didn't think it was possible, but you saved the day! My kids were able to finish their home work without a calculator! However, there is still a problem. Tomorrow's lesson does require certain steps done on the calculator. What can I do?"

The rest of the room went quiet when they heard this. "The trouble is not over!" they whisper in anguish.

Math Man grins, holding Bill's calculator in one hand and taking a bit of a brownie with the other. He pushed the 'on' button on the calculator, and to everyone's surprise and joy - it turns on!

"What did you do?!" everyone asks.

"Simple," he replied. "Since Father's Day was yesterday, I have extra brownies with me today. Everyone needs a little boost of energy from time to time, so I simply inserted a bit of brownie with the batteries, and it's working just dandy! The poor calculator was just tired and needed a boost." He laughs happily and hands the calculator to Bill. "Oh!" he said, glancing down at his watch. "Isn't it about time for you kids to be gone? I'm thinking it's about time for a nap before I go for a run."

And with that our hero packs up his calculator and brownies and heads out the door. Another problem solved!

"Hooray for Math Man Joe," cheer the students.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Few Pictures of Recent Sewing Projects

First, below is a picture of my current quilt project. I started this quilt about 2 years ago, but I keep laying it aside for other, more pertinent, projects like an anniversary quilt and a wedding quilt. Since it is a double wedding ring quilt, it really needs to be quilted in a circular pattern, and as I wasn't keen on maneuvering the thick, queen-sized bat through my machine in a curvy fashion, I opted to hand quilt it. I borrowed the frame from a friend, and it has proved very helpful so far! This picture was taken at my grandparents' house last week, and that's the Ohio River behind me :).


Second, here is a picture of the dress I recently mentioned. Ashley treated me to some fabric shopping for my birthday way back in early April, and I'm just now finishing the dress made with the fabric I bought. *guilty look* I really like the result. Ashley, Mother Dear, and Sister Dear convinced me to splurge and buy some non-cotton fabric for a dress - out of the ordinary for me, since I'm usually a cotton girl. It's kind of hard to see from the photo, but the fabric has roses all over it with slighly different threads, to give it a pretty, textured look.

VBS Fun and the Gospel to Children

As mentioned before, I was a crew leader for my church's Vacation Bible School this past week, and it was so much fun and such a blessing. I had six rising 1st and 2nd grade girls in my group, and it was so good to get to know them and talk with them. We had some good conversations related to the lessons for each day, and it is amazing how much faith and comprehension even children that young can have! Every time I work with young children it just makes me all the more eager to be a mother of my own brood of chicks :). Little girls, especially, are so loving and just soak up the love you give them. One of the girls (who doesn't attend my church) was leaning against me yesterday during the lesson and said, I'm going to miss you, Miss Susan. Awww. It just melts my heart :). Six and seven year old girls are still in that stage where they love to snuggle and giggle without fear of seeming babyish, yet they can also comprehend a lot. Their faith, though simple now, is so precious! For of such is the kingdom of God.

Isn't it amazing how selfish little girls can be, though? My crew was very well-behaved, but all (except one) of them were so self-centered! They each wanted to be the first in line, etc., and if they did something "good" they wanted everyone to know! It is so hard to explain the balance between doing good and announcing it! One of the girls really did understand, though (she obviously has been very well-trained by her parents), and she would often do little things for the others, like letting them have a turn first or letting them pick the nicer craft supplies, etc., and she never looked for praise from me or the others. I could certainly learn many lessons from her!

My girls were very well-behaved this week, but I saw enough childish selfishness from them this week - and misbehavior from the other kids - to only seek to confirm what I already knew. Children are not innocent. I mentioned to Mother and Sister Dear that John Locke must not have had much exposure to young children or he would have had to "revise" his blank slate theory, to which Mother Dear replied, Revise it nothing! He would have had to throw it out! Ah, so true.

I'm afraid that the gospel is very often presented to children in a reverse fashion, or at least in a confused, mixed-up fashion. Each day this week, we had a different theme: Monday was Jesus is our friend (proper response: Viva!), Tuesday was Jesus is our life (Viva!), Wednesday was Jesus is our leader (Viva!), Thursday was Jesus is our Savior (Viva!), and Friday was Jesus is our helper. Each theme was good and had a Biblical basis. Indeed, to a Christian, Jesus is his friend, life, leader, Saviour, and helper. . . . but not in that order!

The first three days in VBS it was all about the kids learning to do good things because Jesus is their friend (Viva!), their life (Viva!), and their leader (Viva!). The problem? Sin wasn't even mentioned until Thursday. Until then the lessons focused on what we can try to do to please Jesus, rather than what we have done to offend a perfectly holy God. It didn't show the children just how much they need a Savior, and it didn't tell them that they can't do anything to earn God's favor and salvation.

Every day the kids were given a challenge to complete before the following day - something nice that they had to do to show someone else that they act different because Jesus is their friend (Viva!), or life (Viva!), or leader (Viva!). The next day they would tell their crew leaders how they fulfilled their challenge. Sister Dear overheard one lady complimenting one of her charges after hearing what he had done (to complete his challenge), and she told him, You know what that means? That means you're a good person. *cringe* Think of the message that sends to that little boy!

Oh, well, that's nice to know. Now because of a single, solitary act that I did by coercion, my debt of sin has been bumped off the charts and replaced with a positive credit in the bank of my holiness. I guess I don't need a Savior anymore.

It is so dangerous to present the gospel to children in this manner! The last thing I want for a little child is to come away from VBS or church with the idea that they can somehow be "good enough" for God. That is not the gospel message, and it pains me when kids view the gospel as such. The morally rich (those who think they have it all together) have the hardest time entering the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. . . The message of the first three days bordered on a works-based salvation, which is definitely not the message of the gospel!

Thursday we finally used the word sin. During the Bible story we talked about sin, how we have all sinned, and how we are all in need of a Savior. The teacher really did a good job explaining this to the group, and then we had individual time with our smaller group of kids to talk about sin and our need of a Savior. But I think that lesson should have come earlier in the week, before we talked about Jesus being the Lord of our life. How can Jesus be our friend or our life (more important than anything else) or our leader unless he is first our Savior? As Walter Marshall once said, [Christ] knew that we could perform nothing holily, except he made us first partakers of salvation, and that we shall never obey him as a Law-giver, until we receive him as a Saviour.

. . . and that is how I think the gospel is often presented to kids in a backwards fashion. Kids first need to be taught their need of a Savior, before they can be encouraged to obey God with their actions. Our good works are out of gratitude and obedience to God, realizing that we have no hope outside of the mercy of the cross, so they are meaningless unless under the shadow of Calvary. Heaven forbid that the little ones this week should come away from VBS thinking more of their actions to please God rather than focusing most on Jesus's sacrificial actions on the cross to save them from their worst enemy - themselves.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

VBS and WCF

Gotta love those acronymns :).

I've been a bit busy this week with my church's Vacation Bible School, and some of you may have noticed my decreased online activity, both at my blog and in commenting to others. I'm also trying to cut back on blogging in general, but especially this week, other things are taking priority.

I'm the crew leader for six rising 1st-2nd grade girls and loving it :). I'm having a bit too much fun teasing them, loving on them, and talking with them about Jesus. Ah, life is good :). I'll probably post more about VBS tomorrow or Saturday, specifically why I think the gospel is often presented to little kids in a backwards fashion :(, but also the positive aspects of the week.

Next week I have the opportunity to attend a slightly more stimulating set of lectures than the VBS skits from this week ;). Mother Dear and I are registered for a 2-day conference on the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is being given in Atlanta :). I'm very excited about the opportunity, and only wish it was a longer conference :(. Ah well.

And now I'm off to finish a dress (don't cheer too loudly, Ashley. . . ) and then hopefully get some reading in before supper.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Two Very Good Quotes on Justification, Works, and the Moral Law

I'm reading through The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, by Walter Marshall, and today in my reading I came across these two excellent parts that were too good not to share, though they are admittedly a bit lengthy. From Direction VI:

The apostle Paul opposeth the believing required in the gospel, to all doing for life, as the condition proper to the law (Gal. iii. 12). The law is not of faith: but, the man that doth them, shall live in them (Rom. iv. 5). To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. If we seek salvation by ever so easy and mild a condition of works, we do thereby bring ourselves under the terms of the law, and do become debtors to fulfil the whole law in perfection, though we intended to engage ourselves only to fulfil it in part (Gal. v. 3); for the law is a complete declaration of the only terms whereby God will judge all that are not brought to despair of procuring salvation by any of their own works, and to receive it as a gift freely given to them by the grace of God in Christ. So that all that seek salvation, right or wrong, knowingly or ignorantly, by any works, less or more; whether invented by their own superstition, or commanded by God in the Old or New Testament, shall at last stand or fall according to these terms.
Continuing, also from Direction VI:

The covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai, is abolished by Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. viii. 8, 9, 13). And the ten commandments bind us not as they were words of that covenant (Exod. 34. 28). I mean, they bind us not as conditions of that covenant, except we seek to be justified by works: for the law, as a covenant, doth still stand in force enough to curse those that seek salvation by their own works (Gal. iii. 10); and, if abolished, it is only to those that are in Christ by faith (Gal. ii. 16, 20); Acts iii 22-25; xv. 10, 11). But the ten commandments bind us still, as they were then given to a people that were at that time under the covenant of grace made with Abraham, to show them what duties are holy, just, and good, well-pleasing to God, and to e a rule for their conversation. The result of all is, that we must still practise moral duties, as commanded by Moses: but we must not seek to be justified by our practice. If we use them as a rule of life, not as conditions of justification, they can be no ministration of death, or killing letter unto us. Their perfection indeed maketh them to be harder terms to procure life by, but a better rule to discover all imperfections, and to guide us to that perfection which we should aim at. And it will be our wisdom, not to part with the authority of the decalogue of Moses, until our new divines can furnish us with another system of morality, as complete as that, and as excellently composed, and ordered by the wisdom of God, and more authentic than that is.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I brought home 13 boxes of books. . . :-D

I'm back from my trip to Indiana! It was a fun, relaxing week with Mother Dear and Grandparents Dear. I made some good headway in my reading and also in my hand-quilting project. We also got to see a new period film, courtesy of one of my mom's sisters. I'd highly recommend North & South, adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's novel. It has some similarities to Pride and Prejudice and Wives and Daughters, which are two of my favorite period films (and two of my favorite classic novels).

Mother Dear and I helped my grandmother to do assorted organizing, and cleaning and the biggest project was going through my grandfather's library. He's given the okay for it to be cleared and everything tossed or given away. Well, this bibliophile didn't want to see so many fine books disappear, so she volunteered to "dispose" of many herself :). No one else in the family expressed much interest in searching through Granddad's collection for some "keepers," so I pretty much had free reign on an enormous number of books.

My grandfather was a Presbyterian pastor for over 40 years, so most of the books were theological (*grin*), with some classic literature and poetry thrown into the mix. The theology books ranged from pretty conservative to pretty liberal, so they were of varying interest to me. Almost all the books were hardbound, many quite old, some even pre-1850. I found a number of books on various Bible topics like baptism, communion, the beatitudes, etc., as well as many overviews of the New Testament, studies on Paul, analyses of the work of Christ, some Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. I also found a number of old books of classic poetry and literature. Lots of good books to bring home :). Here are a few highlights of my findings:

Specific books I had been looking for, and happened to find:

The original Book of Common Prayer (before the marriage vows were modernized)
Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (two volume, leather-bound copy)
Letters to Karen, by Charlie W. Shedd
Christianity and Liberalism, by J. Gresham Machen
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
A Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Greek New Testament
The Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
The Old Testament in Hebrew

Some of my favorite finds:

Hardbound, embellished copy of Tennyson's poetry
Hardbound, 2-volume set of John Knox's History of the Reformation in Scotland
Set of hardbound Sunday School books (made before curriculum was reduced to handouts and cartoon drawings. . . )
An 1842 edition of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, with the WCF (with scripture proofs), the catechisms, and directory for worship
An 1857 edition of A Book of Public Prayer, compiled from the Authorized Formularies of Worship of the Presbyterian Church, as prepared by the Reformers Calvin, Knox, Bucer, and Others (how's that for a lengthy title).
The Ruling Elder, Near to the Heart of God, and The Foreign Missionary Enterprise and its Sincere Critics, by Cleland McAfee (my great-great-grandfather and writer of the hymn Near to the Heart of God)
Complete set of William Barclay's NT commentaries (those should be interesting, as I've heard varied reports on his theology)
The Works of Josephus (early church father), published in 1842, in 2 volumes
History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, by W.M. Hetherington

Most interesting find:

Bible Defence of Slavery by Jossiah Priest

This was a book published in 1852 that defended the American practice of slavery by race. Basically the entire book explains why blacks are inferior to whites, twisting scripture to "prove" this assertion. A few excerpts from the table of content:
Evidences that the Supreme Being puts a higher estimate on white than on
black. . . insensibilities of the negroes to bodily pain. . . meanness of the
negro spirit. . . negroes' brains found to be less in weight and measure than
the white man's. . . difference of negro sensibilities from that of the whites,
on being separated from wives and children, proven by facts. . . etc.

General slavery (which I still hate, but is an entirely different matter) is one thing, but slavery based on race is quite another issue! We are all One Blood. I'm definitely going to have to read the book, but I'm going to be writhing with anger while I read it!

Disclaimer: My grandparents did not own the book because they subscribe to the views presented. Far from it, just to clarify :).

Anyway, those are a few highlights from my fun findings from my adventures last week :). Unfortunately I "only" have two (decent-sized) bookcases in my bedroom, so the vast majority of the books remain boxed-up, along with other, previous purchases. My dream has always been to someday have a large room in my future (hypothetical) house devoted entirely to books. Most girls, when they watch Disney's Beauty and the Beast, probably are enchanted by the enormous castle, or Belle's beautiful gowns, or the singing dishes. I was captivated by the library! Someday I'd like to have a library like that, with built-in bookshelves all-round :).

I can dream, can't I?

The Pursuit of Knowledge - A Clarification

Edit: Hmm, I managed to post this three times at first??? Weird. Blogger is strange.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a follow-up to my post titled The Pursuit of Knowledge, which I posted several days ago.

In my previous post, I discussed the middle age practice of blindly accepting things as true, based on authoritative beliefs. I explained the historical shift of science to becoming a truly scientific field, using sensory experience to explain and test things. I then explained the place of reasoning and knowledge in the life of a Christian:

As Christians we should not be afraid of knowledge and reasoning, or cast them aside to believe the claims of "authorities". Instead we should recognize knowledge and reasoning as gifts from God to explore and understand His creation. The Christian faith is not a blind faith that requires us to set aside our brains at the door. We are not only allowed to explore and reason and search for knowledge, but we are required to do so. Throughout the proverbs we are entreated to search for wisdom and understanding, and in the gospels we are commanded to love God with our heart, soul, body, and mind.
Mrs. Blythe commented with a good point:
I'm all for blind acceptance really (not from 'authorities', but of God's word the only authority).

I want to clarify that I am not saying that we should never accept something unless it can be strictly proven to us or experienced by us. Christianity is not a blind faith, but it is also not just a matter of collecting data and proving the claims of Christianity! We walk by faith, not by sight. Mrs. Blythe made a good point of differentiating between authorities and The Authority - God's word. The problem in the middle ages was blind acceptance of theories held by (frankly) ignorant men, not theories laid out in scripture or theories tested properly.

I accept many things in scripture simply because I believe that the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word of God. I have no way to prove the resurrection, and data I could collect in the present would lend no support to the story of the resurrection, yet I believe it is true. Part of the danger of relying strictly on the scientific method is that it relies on the natural order of things, not taking into account the supernatural intervention of God. We are certainly not meant to only believe those things that can be proven directly. Jesus said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe."

At the same time, the Bible does stress the confirmation of truths by sensory experience and it does encourage and command the use of our reasoning to explain and test things, so certainly Christianity is not just a matter of accepting a lot of unproven facts. There is a balance to be struck. God realizes that man responds well to physical demonstrations or representations of spiritual truths, and he uses physical proofs and evidence time after time throughout scripture. He also uses things like the sacraments (or ordinances, as some persuasions call them ;) ) to demonstrate very abstract spiritual truths. God uses the sacraments as a physical representation of much more difficult spiritual truths, to confirm the validity and reality of the tougher concept.

So yes, we are to accept many things on faith, trusting in God's Word. But we also are gifted with the ability (and command) to reason with our minds. God definitely does not dismiss sensory experience as worthless; in fact, he repeatedly uses it as confirmation of physical realities. I hope that clarifies what I meant in my first post :).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Back Home Again, In Indiana. . .

*nostalgic humming continues*

Mother Dear and I are driving up to Southern Indiana tomorrow after church. We'll be visiting Grandparents Dear in Hanover, an itty bitty town 40 minutes north of Lousiville, until Friday or Saturday, when we'll drive back to Georgia. It'll be good to be back up North for a short time, where people speak normally and use correct lingo :). I'll be able to use terms like "burner" and "pitch-in," and people will know what I mean! I won't be online this week, but will return next weekend, or maybe not until Monday.