Friday, November 24, 2006

The Screwtape Letter: Intro and Letter #1

Screwtape "My dear Wormwood"
Introduction (Editors note: This post is the first in a series of studies of The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. Our Sunday-school of high-schoolers began this study about six weeks ago. We are taking one letter each Sunday, reading it out loud, and then commenting on it. Our main purpose has been, not to study the devil and his demons, but rather to study our own selves from a biblical perspective. Our emphasis is on the grace and mercy of God in justifying and sanctifying us through Jesus Christ our Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. Taken into class each Sunday, these lessons are mere outlines. I will make an effort to fill them out a bit before posting them here.) Epigraphs: An epigraph is a quotation put at the beginning of a piece of literature, either at the beginning of a book, or chapter, that sets a tone or introduces a theme. The two epigraphs at the beginning of The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, are:
  • "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." Luther
  • "The devil . . the prowde spirite . . cannot endure to be mocked." Thomas More
What do you think the tone o this book of "letters" will be? During the middle ages Christians depicted the devil as wearing red suit with horns and a tail, intending to mock him. Parody: Parody is imitating something else usually for satirical (comic) effect. This style of literature's main purpose is to have fun with a topic. Lewis depicts Hell as a parody of Heaven. How does the Bible describe Hell? Background: These "letters" were written in England during the Second World War. The British people suffered greatly due to shortages due to rationing. They also suffered due to nightly bombing raids on English towns and cities by the German "blitzkrieg" or "lightning war". By day the British could watch their airmen do battle with the German Luftwaffe over the skies of Britain in the Battle of Britain The odds were overwhelming with 640 British planes to 2600 German planes. Screwtape Letter: Letter #1 Vocabulary: materialist- Someone who considers material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values, or that nothing exists except matter. naïf (naive)- Showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement. jargon- Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand. abominable- something greatly hated, causing moral revulsion. athiest- Someone who does not believe in God. aberrations- That which leaves the accepted norm, that which is unnatural and unwelcome. logic- reasoning using strict rules of truth to prove something true or false, probable, or improbable. Questions: 1. Who is the "Enemy"? 2. Who is the "patient"? 3. What is meant by "...oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy's!"? 4. What are some realities that we cannot touch and see?
"Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape"
Next week: Screwtape Letter #2

Friday Photos: Community Service

IMG_4594.JPG Last Tuesday evening we went to the community service that our church is involved in through the local "West Side Ministerial Alliance". The Alliance is represented by a variety of church denominations, but not as diverse as we could be. They are all baptistic, mostly Anglo, some charismatic. Our hosting church this year was Red Fork Baptist Church. I always enjoy these community services, held around Thanksgiving, though generally not on account of the Christ-centered emphasis. These community services help me keep things in perspective at my own church. The music at my own church frustrates me at times, but after just a short time at this year's community service I was realizing the far surpassing value of our singing service. We have a better Minister of Music, better hymn book, far heartier congregation of singers, and two angels on piano and organ. On the preaching of the word, my pastor was not slated to preach this year. The pastor of the local AOG church was. I am always curious and eager to hear what any preacher of God's word has to offer, but not because I don't have a faithful pastor at my own church. I just enjoy good preaching. I wasn't dissapointed. After the preacher got up and tried to tell us that doctrine doesn't matter, because it's all about unity after all, after close to a dozen lame jokes, then my pastor got up and prayed the best five-minute message you have ever heard in a closing prayer at a community service. IMG_4601.JPG One thing that surpassed anything I have seen in a church on the West side was their stained glass. The photos pictured here look out over the people as they walk into the sanctuary. There was quite a bit more glass around the building, but this was the only one that was lit up for a decent shot. Apparentely Red Fork Baptist Church is a very missions minded church. Lining the walls of the vestibule and along both sides of the main sanctuary were flags from all of the countries where Southern Baptist missionaries are serving. I had never seen this done before; very interesting, and quite colorful. It seems to be an effective reminder of what the great commission is all about. Don't forget to go see all of the great photos at the Friday Photo Group.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Yes, I have been messing with my template. If anyone can point me to the correct bit of code to remove to get the blog title off of my header logo, I would much appreciate it. In the mean time, I have work to do. Have a good day all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Defacing Graffiti

What's the world coming to? Vandalizing vandalism, the depths of debauchery. What's next? IMG_4522.JPG

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Photos: Hardy Cyclamen

IMG_4486.JPG Ivy-leaved Cyclamen, Cyclamen hedrerifolium is a treat for me this time of year, when few other plants are blooming. The foliage, which is remarkable in its own right, dissapears when spring turns hot. IMG_4496.JPG The Blossoms begin sparingly in October, and then the foliage returns in November. At this time the inverted blossoms, looking earthward with petals pointing backward to the sky, begin to appear more abundantly. They will continue to bloom well into the new year. IMG_4489.JPG Once the flower has been pollinated, the petals fade and fall, and the flower stem begins to curl up so that the "fruit" containing the developing seeds will be in contact with the soil when the seed pod dries and opens in about a month. What can we do with this for a Christian application? Well, as pretty and neat as the Hardy Cyclamen is Christians should not follow its example. We should keep our faces turned upward, toward the Father above, and we should seek to scatter our seeds just a bit farther afield. Don't forget to look at all of the great pics over at the Friday Photo Group. Have a great weekend. This Sunday, worship our great God and Savior with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Alcohol Again

I just received my weekly dose of The White Horse Inn, where the "usual cast of characters were discussing Romans 14 and 15. "The Romans Revolution" has been the topic all this year. If you haven't heard it you need to go back and catch it. It has been a wonderful survey of the book of Romans. The topic this week was on The Weaker Brother, and, among other things, Michael Horton cited some interesting statistics comparing the per-capita instances of alcoholism among various religious groups. Jews, Episcopalians ,Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians have the lowest instances of alcoholism, which all happen to view alcohol as a gift from God. Now for those who view alcohol as a sin: Baptists, Methodists, and Mormons came in with the highest per capita instances of alcoholism. Interesting. The basic thrust of the discussion on the White Horse Inn was that the "weaker brother" who insists that everyone else practice his weakness is really an inverted Pharisee. At one point the discussion got around to the "encyclical" that "we" passed this year at Greensboro. You've got to hear it to realize how silly we really look to just about everybody.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Photos: Chestnuts

There are two totally different kinds of trees commonly called Chestnut. In the genus Castanea are several species that produce edible nuts. Pictured below is a nut, still in the husk, of Castanea mollissima x dentata, a hybrid between Chinese Chestnut and American Chestnut. IMG_4366.JPG In a totally separate genus, Aesculus, is a number of tree species that go by the common name Horse-chestnut, whose nuts are anything but edible. Also known as Red Buckeye, pictured below is a couple of seeds, still in the husk of Aesculus pavia. IMG_4107.JPG While still in their husks, still hanging on the tree, each kind of Chestnut is easily distinguished from the other, but once they have left their context of origin, you have to be very careful. One must look very closely to tell the two apart. It is very important to do so, as eating the wrong nut could do great harm. That is the beauty of the binomial naming system of genus and species, invented by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Names mean something, and they mean the same thing today that they did a couple of hundred years ago, and they will still mean the same thing a hundred years hince, if the Lord tarries. Wouldn't it be nice if words held that precise quality in church matters for more than a decade, words like evangelical, fundamentalist, and Calvinism. We think we have a cute device that makes it all work, namely by adding prefixes such as pre-, post-, and hyper-. If the label doesn't fit any more, because the object has changed, you just adjust the label; post-evangelical, for instance. Surely there is a better way. Like when something changes, you call it something else. It is kind of like sufixing every policical scandal in the last thirty years with -gate. Somebody give me some aspirin, my head hurts. Check out all of the really fine photos at the Friday Photo Group.