Saturday, June 30, 2007

Why Accusers Should Face the Accused

We believe that those who are accused of misbehavior and marked for punishment have a right to face their accusers and defend themselves. But such face-to-face meetings have another benefit. It may be an accuser who intends to harm someone unjustly will be dissuaded from evil when he actually sees and speak with his intended victim. As Dean Koontz puts it in his latest novel The Good Guy:
"The name of a person marked for murder is just a name, but the face makes real the cost of violence. For if we have the nerve to look, we can see in any face our own vulnerability."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Don't Touch Grandpa's Medicine

I'm one of those guys that can watch the original Die Hard every time it reruns on cable networks. My son and I saw Live Free or Die Hard last night. A really fun movie. John McClane is old and bald, but he's still good. I'll need to see it again (and again) so I can memorize the one-liners. My favorite was "enough of this Kung Fu . . ." You'll just have to see it yourself. And as always the story is totally believable.

Backlit Sunflower

I finally captured a decent image. For lots of different reasons my camera work has suffered in the past few months. Actually, my son saw the potential in this shot - a lone sunflower in a field of new crops. What made this shot interesting is the backlighting of the evening sun. The flower was facing away from the sun and I was able to get to it just before the light from the sun passed below the tree line.

I'm still not sure which shot I like better. They both have flaws.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pop Music Meme

Mark tagged me for this a few days ago.

I turned 18 in 1975. I was a mess. I can hardly remember anything. It's the year I graduated from high school and headed off to college at Mizzou.

Hey, and what's weird is that hair style is coming back. I saw a young anchor on NBC's Nightly News the other night that looked like he might have walked out of my High School year book onto the set at NBC.

That year I saved my money working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant in St. Louis and bought a new stereo system. It was an old component system - Pioneer amp and tuner, with two Advent tower speakers. I remember the Advents putting out some nice sounds.

I loved the Eagles, and "One of these Nights" was one of my favorites. I saw the Eagles in concert twice. Once at the Mississippi River Festival in Illinois and once, I believe, at the Fox in St. Louis. But I could be wrong about that. Of course, disco was just getting hot and KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the way I like it" may have been one of the first big disco hits. By the time I graduated from college we all hated disco.

You gotta remember that we listened to songs on vinyl discs at home and eight-track tapes and AM mono radios in our cars. I don't believe there were any cassette decks in our cars yet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Deep Thought

According to Augustine,

"A woman's sex is not a defect; it is natural." (City of God, 22.17).

Yes, I agree. I don't think I've ever been tempted to think it might be otherwise.

Defending the Barn

This is my son having fun with MY birthday present! You can hear the rounds hitting the steel plate if you listen carefully. Well, so much for this blog being devoted exclusively to theology.

The Name "Presbyterian"

I have frequently been asked why we call our churches "Presbyterian." Sometimes when I explain the reason I get another question: "Do you all think that your system of church government is that important?" That's a fair question.

Thirty years ago I might have thought so, but not anymore. I remember being young and idealistic about the wonders of the presbyterian "system" of government. You know, checks and balances, limited authority, plurality of leadership at the local level, a series of graded courts, grass-roots (bottom-up) authority, connectionalism, biblical names for church leaders, etc.

Having experienced abuses of power in non-presbyterian churches, my friends and I were positively ecstatic about the Presbyterian system of government and ready to embrace it all as ecclesiastical uptopia. We actually thought that the form of government itself would prevent abuses. That there was something about doing ecclesiastical government right that guaranteed the peace and purity of the church. To say the least, we were a bit naive.

Perhaps these kinds of misplaced hopes are endemic to Americans. After all, some people actually believe that the U.S. is "a government of laws and not of men." In business we think that coming up with a new organizational flow chart is the way to fix problems.

But it's not true. Laws don't govern, people do. Systems don't administer justice and provide leadership, people do. A business or nation can be organized out the wazoo for efficiency and productivity yet still fail miserably because the wrong kind of people are leading the company. A nation can have the most just laws and the most reasonable form of government and yet without the right men to fill the positions of authority none of that really matters.

Systems of ecclesiastical government do not lead churches, men do. Rotten men in finely crafted, biblically-labeled positions of authority will muck it all up. If you have ever read John Buchan's Witchwood, you'll know what I am talking about. Here's a novel where Presbyterian government is used to persecute a righteous minister and run him out of his parish. It's a sober reminder of the kinds of abuses that can inhabit presbyterianism.

Of course, we need not look any further than the New Testament. In the Gospels, the OT church leaders, precisely organized and assembled in conformity to God's revelation, nevertheless condemned Jesus to death. The presbyterian form of government did not prevent the priests and elders from committing the most heinous act of injustice in human history.

That is why God is much more concerned with the character of men who lead the church than he is about the precise system of ecclesiastical government.

Back to the OT church in the Gospels. There were in fact important irregularities in the way the Jews were organized. The high priest was not from the divinely-sanctioned line of Aaron through Zadok. But Jesus in his condemnation of the rulers of the Jews (Matt. 23 for example) never picks at the organizational problems. Jesus never mentions what we might call a technical problem with the High Priest's appointment. Rather, he goes after the men themselves, their foul character and their bad behavior.

God is much more concerned with the character of men who lead the church than he is about the precise system of ecclesiastical government.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Theological Blog

My other blog was too cumbersome and a royal pain to publish. I don't want to have to post a picture with every entry. And iWeb is too slow. This blog will allow me to post quickly and without the need to worry about fonts, pictures, etc. Besides, there's still so much that needs to be "corrected."

Just for the record, my other and older blogs can be found here:

The original Corrigenda was largely incorporated into CACOETHES SCRIBENDI.

Then there is CACOETHES SCRIBENDI II. I'll leave that up for personal posts and whatnot.

This second Corrigenda, however, will be where I will post daily (hopefully).