Saturday, March 01, 2008

Plato on Tolerance

I ran across a wonderful quote from Plato:
"The unrighteous and vicious are always to be pitied in any case; and one can afford to forgive as well as to pity him who is curable, and refrain and calm one’s anger, not getting into a passion, like a woman, and nursing ill-feeling. But upon him who is incapable of reformation and wholly evil, the vials of our wrath should be poured out; wherefore, I say, that good men ought, as the occasion demands, to be either gentle or passionate." (Plato, Laws, 731.)
In essence, he's pointing out that tolerance is a virtue but only to a point. After that, it becomes a demonic weakness.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Only Six Quirky Things?

I’ve just been “tagged” by David at The Reformed Pastor to provide “six unimportant facts/quirks/habits about myself.” Harumph! As if there were even on unimportant fact about me! And my habits and behaviors are quite's everyone else who is out of sync!

Okay...enough self-justification. Past the arms and through the fingers, careful gang...the scent will linger:

1) I have an unhealthy knowledge of academic dress. I know enough about proper academic decorum and decoration to put most marshals and provosts this side of the Atlantic to shame. I actually collect certain varieties of gowns and hoods. I belong to list-servs dedicated to the subject (and to academic culture in general - such as post-nominals, historical universities, etc.).

2) I have a similar fascination with ecclesiastical vesture. Now these are actually quite interrelated as, historically, the clergy was the educated class. Most academic regalia is patterned on monastic habits. Similarly, in the English speaking world, Protestant churches are where you're most likely to encounter academic garb outside of the university setting. I also wrote an FAQ on vesture for the PCUSA while I was an intern for the Office of Theology and Worship. As my buddy Dave said, it's a subject in which I have a vested interest. (nyuk nyuk nyuk)

3) I'm fascinated with zombies. I like reading about them, watching movies about them, thinking about my plans for our family's survival in a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested America. It's really weird. We're looking at buying a house now, and my wife is already starting to anticipate my “that's not really zombie-proof” quip when the realtor points out all the natural lighting from a bay window.

4) I learned to cook from TV. It all started with Mr. Rogers making snacks in the kitchen. Then, I advanced to the The Frugal Gourmet. I remember back when the TV Food Network was only broadcast on for a few hours each day. Then they expanded the airtime by simply repeating the shows! How to Boil Water gave a great overview of the basics, and Mario Batali (whom I dressed as for Halloween one year when my hair was still long) taught me simple Italian cuisine. I still enjoy cooking shows, but my work schedule keeps me out of the kitchen.

5) I have trouble going straight through a book. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to make my way through a single book without picking up two or three to work in on the side. I think part of it is this nasty compulsion I have with checking references. I refuse to leave a footnote unread; sometimes, I even go and check the reference myself. I'll even scan the end notes for a chapter and mentally tick which ones need to be read when I encounter them just to save time (after all, there's no sense flipping pages just to read an ibid. or idem). This isn't just for academic reading. I do this all the time. It drives Mrs. GrknDeacon nuts. About the only text I don't do this with is the Good Book, but then I trust its author implicitly.

6) I can't let a bad pun lay undone. I'm incorrigible when it comes to this. If I hold it in, my internal organs start to liquify or something. Anyone who has been around me for more than 10 minutes will start to groan and wince as I do this about that often. I have to seriously work at keeping them out of sermons, lectures, etc. It's a bit of a pride thing, as it's easy to get caught up in my own cleverness. But occasionally, I'm also able to make somebody smile. (Dave, thank you for good-naturedly groaning at them.)

I'm not tagging this to anyone because, outside of the consistory, I have no idea who reads me regularly. But if you do read this, and you decide to take it up, please link to it in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Still a Calvinist, after all these years...

It's been a while since I did this. I figured I'd better show that I've still got some Calvinist "street-cred" since I've crossed over from English-style Reformed Church to Church, English-style.

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Reformed Evangelical

You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan








Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


Monday, February 25, 2008

Pastoral Sensitivity and CPE

After reading Jim Berkley's post on the bedside manner of John Calvin, I came across this post that gave the following video clip:

It's a perfect example of what the powers posers that be are demanding of mainline seminarians. It's not that CPE isn't useful for certain people - or that nothing can be gained from it by everyone. It's just that it is farcical to think that CPE gets anyone closer to the heart of Christian ministry (which - in more honest times - was called the "cure of souls"). It's also symptomatic of institutions which have converted to chaplain-mode. After all, if you don't believe that God actually does rescue his elect from the jaws of death, there's nothing to do but hold collective hands and say "hush" as the night closes on.

Mainline pastoral care classes try to teach you to be polite and sincere. Yet they are sincerely wrong and politely dying. People on the precipice of death need to know that you don't have time to play around with the "gospel of nice" - it's time to find out if the man who returned from the dead can get you to and through death's door with integrity.