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Archive for March, 2009

Dear Bill and the other fine folks at De Regno Christi,

 

I’m deeply honored to be a part of this group; thank you for the invitation.  I would write more at the moment, but I’m in the middle of central Kansas, typing on my mother’s computer (the only one in the house with an internet connection).  Additionally and more importantly, we’re about to celebrate my wife’s fortieth birthday.  

 

Happily, we’re here (back home) in Kansas on spring break.  Not surprisingly, the time with my family, the clear and open Kansas skies, and the very traditional values and genuine friendliness of central and western Kansans have done wonders for a tired soul.

 

I look forward to writing more in/with/on this much needed little platoon, this Christian Republic of Letters, De Regno Christi.

 

I will add one more thing to this email.  Here are six tenets I’ve been thinking about, to add to Russell Kirk’s conservative canon from 1953, in an effort to bridge the divisions within Christendom and to reclaim the culture for those who love, admire, and worship the One True King.

 

•First, that the preservation of the seven cardinal virtues of the West, best understood through the stories of the exemplars of these virtues, is a sacred duty.  

 

•Second, that one must understand history in metahistorical, theological, and poetic terms as did Virgil, St. Augustine, and Christopher Dawson.  

 

•Third, one must embrace a proper anthropology, defining man by both his inherited sin and his received grace.  The person, at root, is a being endowed with rationality, reason, and passion.  He must, to be fully human, balance each of these tensions.

 

•Fourth, Christians (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant)—in alliance with believing Jews and even virtuous pagans—must sanctify the world through the Grace of God.  For men of good will to fight amongst themselves squanders precious time and resources, and it leaves the field to the many enemies of the humane.

 

•Fifth, the real struggle in the world is not between left and right, but between Christ and anti-Christ, between that which is humane and that which is anti-humane.

 

•Finally, true remembrance, preservation, and advocacy of all that is Good, True, and Beautiful, comes from a recognition that our highest form of understanding is derived from the reflection of the light of the Logos (Gospel of St. John 1:9) in our souls through the faculty of imagination.  In this point, one must follow not just St. John, but Mary: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”  Or, as St. Augustine put in it in his sermon on Psalm 58: “Of itself it hath no light, nor of itself powers; but all that is fair in a soul is virtue and wisdom; but it neither is wise for itself, nor strong for itself, nor is itself light to itself, nor is itself virtue to itself.  There is a certain fountain and origin of virtue, there is a certain root of wisdom, there is a certain, so to speak, if this also is to be said, region of immutable truth; from which if the soul withdraws it is made dark and if it draws near it is made light.”

 

Well, I’m off to honor my wife and her grace, strength, and beauty.

 

God bless and thank you again for including me, Brad

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Missing out on Lent

dark-chocolate-easter-eggWhile most of Christendom is in the midst of the Lent and are preparing for Easter, I cannot help feeling like I am missing out on something.

No, I am not going soft on my Presbyterianism, the regulative principle, ect… but I do find something attractive about the traditional church calendar.  I love the Lord’s Day, but I do tire of only getting to enjoy feast days marked by secular standards.

More to the point, I wonder if we are missing out on something that causes our tradition to be less rooted, less organic, and, well, less human.  Less human?  Just so.  The Genesis account tells us that God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for sings and for seasons, and for days and for years…” (Genesis 1:14).  What did God mean by setting the sun, the moon, and the stars for signs and seasons?  Judging by the the way Israel’s agrarian feasts and their cult feasts melded together, I am tempted to think that God’s creation, with its rhythmic cadence of seasons as they point us from new life, to death, to resurrection are to be embraced, not only as weather patterns but as spiritual guideposts.  The more man, as a creature, is alienated from a sense of unity with the rest of the creation, the less human he becomes.

The ancients knew this to be true.  Farmers know this to be true.  Protestant farmers may be safe but what about what about the suburbanite Presbyterian professor?  Has he lost something from his life that makes him, I fear, less human.  

Besides, on a more frivolous aside, I wonder… do those who eat Christmas cookies from November 25 to December 25 really taste the joy of Christmas morning?  Do those who eat sweetbreads and chocolate in March really know the exuberance of easter morning?  

Are those without a church calender more vulnerable to the ravishes of sterile modernity? 

These are questions that tempt me, as our liturgical brethren being tempted by chocolate.

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The DRC has always been an ecumenical enterprise… a slug feast of diverse opinions softened, at times, by shared traditionalist sentiments.

Today the ecclesiastical opinions become much more diverse as we introduce Dr. Bradley Birzer, Russell Kirk Professor of American Studies History at Hillsdale College, and author of the excellent The Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle Earth and Sanctifying the World: Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson.

Brad is a Roman Catholic deeply rooted in the Augustinian tradition.  We are looking forward to his contributions to our continuing discussion about the essence, relevance, and future of Christendom.  Thanks Brad.

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Will the financial meltdown have  a serious effect on conservative Calvinism?  

Rumor has it that Westminster Theological Seminary’s budget is taking a huge hit.  The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary is considering changing its policies with regard to tuition.  These are significant changes.

But what about congregational life?  The small conservative Reformed denominations, Scottish, German, and Dutch were once rooted in deeply rooted “ethnic” communities.  From Dutch ghettos to Covenanter farming communities our churches were strong because they reflected the spiritual side of real life communities.  The Great Depression- the first one- was nothing in comparison to such powerful bonds.

But is this still true?  Do our churches reflect any kind of identifiable, physical, rooted community?  Or are we now a collection of strangers connected by theology and a creepy sense of “church family” (which, unless we are cousins, I do not want to hear about).  

We do not live in the same towns, we do not shop in the same stores, and our kids do not go to the same schools.  We meet on the Lord’s Day.  Feign intimacy covered by make believe evangelical cliches, and go back to to our impenetrable suburban strongholds, often 30 minutes to an hour from the church.

The drop in gas prices may have granted a reprieve… but those are dark clouds in the sky.

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Trendy Calvinism

Time Magazine has a splashy bit HERE on the Young and Restless predestinarian evangelicals.

We’ve talked about this before, but I thought I’d link it here as I kind of test post.

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Sans the RPC but with all the fun and all the blessings of ecclesiastical liberty!

So take a deep seat, light up a bowl of your favorite hobbit weed, and join the conversation.

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