November 2007


Victor Davis Hanson suggests that Iraq, and the see-saw of public opinion about Iraq, can tell us something about ourselves and our leaders. Since the start of this war, events on the battlefield have swung American politics to the Right and then to the Left. Is it now swinging back?

On the eve of this war about twenty percent had strong feelings to begin the fighting, while twenty percent opposed it — and the vast majority in between had no strong views other than a desire to be on the winning side. Although the Democrats grasped that truth about human nature, and thus all during the last four years adjusted their politics to mirror what they perceived 51 percent of the people believed, they forgot one central truth — evident in the careers of all great statesmen from Pericles to Churchill. While the people are expected to be fickle, they are uneasy when their own leaders prove even more so. 

All the wisdom of the world is childish foolishness in comparison with the acknowledgment of Christ. For what is more wonderful than the unspeakable mystery, that the Son of God, the image of the eternal Father, took upon him the nature of man. Doubtless, he helped his supposed father, Joseph, to build houses; for Joseph was a carpenter. What will they of Nazareth think at the day of judgment, when they shall see Christ sitting in his divine majesty; surely they will be astonished, and say: “Lord, thou helpest build my house, how comest thou now to this high honor?”

When Jesus was born, doubtless, he cried and wept like other children, and his mother tended him as other mothers tend their children. As he grew up, he was submissive to his parents, and waited on them, and carried his supposed father’s dinner to him, and when he came back, Mary, no doubt, often said: “My dear little Jesus, where hast thou been?” He that takes not offence at the simple, lowly, and mean course of the life of Christ, is endued with high divine art and wisdom; yea, has a special gift of God in the Holy Ghost. Let us ever bear in mind, that our blessed Saviour thus humbled and abased himself, yielding even to the contumelious death of the cross, for the comfort of us poor, miserable and damned creatures.

Me: I love Luther’s comment about what the people of Nazareth will say on the Day of Judgment. This reminds me of Anne Rice’s (the author of all those Vampire books-she has since become a Christian) last book was called Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt: A Novel.

The book is a fictional account of what might have happened as Joseph and Mary moved back to Judea after Christ’s formative years were spent in Egypt. The Bible is, of course, silent on this part of Jesus’ life. Rice’s novel is pure speculation but it is faithful speculation. There is an element of a super-hero origin story as the young Christ discovers that he is no mere mortal. Not sure if that is proper, but still, it is interesting to think about this period of Christ’s life.

It brings home the reality of the Incarnation. Christ did not have a mere human shell. He was every bit as human as you and me. He had human emotions. He had human weaknesses. He had human temptations. He died a human death. Incredibly, he did not do this for a wife, a child, or a close loved one (i.e., the likely limited universe we might make a similar sacrifice for). He did this for his enemies, people that hate him. He did it for us.

Gene Veith cites a report that 62% of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them!

Are 6 out of 10 Americans really moonbats? I was hoping it was more like 50/50.

Of course, if you asked me whether the federal government SHOULD have known that the 9/11 attacks were imminent, I would tell you yes–follow the trail: 1993 WTC bombings, Khobar Tower bombing, U.S.S. Cole, etc. Yet, we slept on. I suspect we are falling asleep yet again. But, this poll indicates that an overwhelming majority of Americans think the Feds specifically knew 9/11 was coming.

Perhaps more troubling, according to the same report, 16 percent believe the WTC collapse might have been caused by secretly planted explosives, not hijacked aircraft. Clearly, almost 20% of Americans are coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

You know that old phrase, “you gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” I think it is applicable in this case. Post-modernism has wrought the common belief that truth no longer exists. We no longer believe in any objective truth. Accordingly, we will now fall for anything.

This one is a two-fer:

Jeremiah 31:15

This is what the LORD says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because her children are no more.”

Matthew 2:17 points to Herod’s slaughter of all male children, two years old and under, in Bethlehem and its vicinity as the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Psalm 78:1-2

O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old–

Again, Matthew sees the fulfillment of this prophesy in Jesus Christ:

Matthew 13-34-35:

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables;
he did not say anything to them without using a parable.
So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

The gospel of Matthew was written for a largely Jewish audience. So, Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, took great pains to tie the prophecies of the Old Testament to Jesus Christ. For the Jews reading or (more likely) hearing Matthew’s Gospel for the first time, these connections would have deep resonance. Indeed, they would be great hammer blows shattering their unbelief.

St. Augustine declared that “The New Testament was in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” Matthew’s gospel continues to reveal that to us today.

Gene Veith’s blog Cranach, notes this Washington Post story about young Catholics embracing the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic church:

“It’s the opposite of the cacophony that comes with the [modern] Mass,” said Ken Wolfe, 34, a federal government worker who goes to up to four Latin Masses a week in the Washington area. “There’s no guitars and handshaking and breaks in the Mass where people talk to each other. It’s a very serious liturgy.”

Attendance at the Sunday noon Mass at St. John the Beloved in McLean has doubled to 400 people since it began celebrating in Latin. Most of the worshipers are under 40, said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee.

Younger parishioners “are more reflective,” McAfee said. “They want something uplifting when they go to church. They don’t want something they can get outside.”

Me: this is a good thing and I suspect it is not limited to Catholic youth. Truth is truth. Good is good. Beauty is beauty. They remain such despite vascilating fashions and trends. Quality never goes out of style. So too, the quality of the old school liturgy never goes out of style.

I can remember ten years ago having dorm room debates about the relative merits of “contemporary worship” versus the “traditional liturgy.” The criticisms were always the same: the old liturgy was just “old.” It was “hard to understand.” It was “not welcoming.” It was “boring.” Meanwhile, the “praise” music associated with contemporary services was easy to sing, uplifting, and new.

In every case, those critical of the “traditional liturgy” had very little knowledge about its origins, its ties to scripture, and its place in the life of the church. The liturgy is a journey from law to Gospel, from sin to grace. Its craftsmanship is remarkable. Its beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder. It is beautiful, objectively so.

Things that do not share these traits become mere fads and fashions. I think that is what is manifesting itself in the story above. The young parishioners are reflecting, rejecting unserious liturgy, and returning to something beautiful and infinitely more meaningful.

This is another one of those recurring items you will find at Planet Augsburg–selections from Martin Luther’s “Table Talk.” Luther was a prolific writer. His complete works run to 55 volumes! Odds are that most of the readers of this site, Lutheran they may be, have not lately dug into one of those 55 volumes to get cozy with Martin. Frankly, such an endeavor can be intimidating.

However, Luther was a witty and articulate conversationalist. So much so that his friends and followers began recording his words during their informal chats around the dinner table or other gathering. This “table talk” was published in 1566, twenty years after Luther’s death. It remains in print today. Luther ranges far and wide and his earthy wit is often revealed in these selections. We hope to give you just a taste of Herr Luther with occasional excerpts from Table Talk relevant to today’s issues or season:

#183 – The feast we call Annunciatio Mariae, when the angel came to Mary, and brought her the message from God, that she should conceive his Son, may be fitly called the ‘Feast of Christ’s Humanity’; for then began our deliverance. The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.

“Mystery” is a word that seems quite bothersome to us moderns. I have met a few quite devout Christians who chomp at the bit to explain the logic of Christian doctrine to all unbelievers in an effort to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that Christianity is the truth. I have also met a few materialists ready to discount anything that cannot be seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. Both sides have a hard time with mystery.

However, I have met more people who seem to be in the middle of these two. They are quick to deny belief in any of those Biblical “fairy tales” (e.g., Noah and the Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and pretty much the entire Creation narrative). At the same time, they profess a belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Presumably, they accept his Resurrection as true and they accept that Jesus was both True God and True Man.

Upon what basis can they accept these New Testament stories (aren’t these the same sort of “fairy tales”?) and reject those old ones?

My point is this: Luther correctly identifies the incarnation of Jesus Christ (God made flesh) as a mystery beyond all human understanding. Yet, why do today’s Christians have an easier time accepting (presumably) this mystery and want to do everything they can to get out of accepting a six-day creation account? Isn’t the mystery of the incarnation just as difficult to square with science as the creation story?

If you’re like me, sometimes at night you like to drive with no intended destination or purpose. You get in the car, and you just go. These are usually special moments where I can reflect, ponder or pray, but most of the time I just love to listen to music. If you get to know me, you will eventually learn at least one certain thing about me; my love for music. Music is such a deep and intrinsic part of me, when I get back to my apartment, I don’t flip on the TV, I go straight to my iTunes or CD collection and fill my place with music. Does anyone really relax with a TV? I highly doubt it, sure, there are movies and programs that move us, but I guarantee that behind these programs is a good music soundtrack.

Some people treat music like a bag of chips, when they’re finished with them, they just crinkle up the bag and throw it away in the trash can and move on to the next “treat”, forgetting what it was they just consumed. To treat music like this is just heinous. It hurts to see that music can even be effected by our innate lusts and non-fulfilling consumerism tendencies. So today, sit back and savor a song. I know it’s tempting, but go out and search for music, don’t just let yourself be spoon fed by your car radio. Think critically about what you are listening to, and avoid potato chip consumerism. Alright, now that you know a significant part of my identity, I am going to share with you some music which is currently in my iPod.

This is Sigur Ros, a band from Iceland. They’re not like most musicians, they hold to their native tongue, and yet they have incorporated a different language that they themselves have created and call “hopelandic”. As for a genre, it could be broadly placed under alternative, but a band like this deserves to be in its own specific category. Therefore, I dub them ambient- atmospheric indie, as you listen, to the below music videos, you’ll soon figure why I place them in this genre. Thanks for reading, and thanks for taking interest in something that is important to me.

“Hoppipolla”

“Untitled #4”

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