Friday, December 29, 2006

Danielle Baldelli (pure Nazareth)

If you want to familiarize yourself with the place where most of my thoughts find their (penultimate) home, watch part 1 of this interview with D. Baldelli, especially focussing in on the portion where he recounts, using records, how the (inspired) "Cosmic" sound was born. I first watched this months ago, and I'm posting it now because I think about it still daily, even hourly. This interview captures much that is objective vis-a-vis the nature of art and creativity (i.e., the way God works). So far ahead of it's time; aesthetics born of ideas; convention questioned rightly; a non-English speaker (i.e., an alien); post-modern ideals realized in the late 70s; can anything good come out of Nazareth? Yes, all inspiration as epitomized by the story of Daniele Baldelli's work during the late 70s/early 80s. Watch the video, don't read the text! Note: the second section, where he speaks of his more recent interests and legacy is much less fascinating. Grace is not a process.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Airblowns by Deirdre Colligan

The first time I saw one I was both transfixed and offended. A large plastic, inflatable snow globe, easily 8 feet tall, containing an oversize (also inflatable) snowman swayed ominously, complete with fake snow circulating around inside it's clear plastic dome on currents of air being noisily pumped into it. It was constructed to simulate, at a gargantuan scale, those tasteful little glass Christmas decorations that replicate a picturesque winter snowstorm descending on small lit up villages or iconic holiday figurines, when gently shaken. (Admittedly, those too have a genre of counterparts and souvenirs who have gone off the map tackiness-wise, but I still find the Christmas versions charming). But this one was poised in the entranceway of the Weschester Bed Bath & Beyond, welcoming shoppers weeks before Christmas, even before Thanksgiving, as I recall. I paused for a minute to look at it more closely, trying to figure out if it was a store specific display, until I noticed that a large price sticker adhered to the base of its inflatable "snow globe" structure read "$79," marked down from $139. I was startled by the fact this was available to anyone with less that a hundred dollars, a drop in the bucket in the scheme of middle-class American Christmas shopping. But equally surprising was that it was on sale so EARLY in the season, suggesting that the store had somehow expected these to be flying off it's shelves so quickly that they necessitated being on sale in November.

At that time, I hadn't seen a single one of the monstrosities peppering anyone's yard and smiled to myself, thinking, "Who would buy one of those?" But in an almost creepy foreshadowing of the changed landscape of suburban holiday front lawns, when I was exiting Bed Bath and beyond with my purchases, I noticed children drawn to the thing magnetically, mesmerized by the swirling snow and cartoon appearance. The parents, on their way into the store, were not sufficiently worn down enough to purchase one, but I could see it happening, after an hour or so of needing to placate any kid subjected to hours of Christmas shopping. In other words, it was just a matter of time and slashed prices. To my, and apparently many others' horror (see NY TIMES article below), less that two weeks later these things were tilting silently back and forth on what seems like ever other front lawn in suburbia. There were at least three in my parent's neighborhood, and on my walk to the train station every morning, I spotted two more. One morning, I observed, one had been deflated on a front lawn, and I secretly reveled at the idea that a child, or some irate neighbor had punctured it, ending its short life well before Christmas. But walking home that evening, after it was already dark out, the creature (a Santa Claus, it turned out) had been magically resurrected and was glowing, swaying along with the hum of its airpump. I wondered if these things are visible from outer space.

Finally, several days before Christmas, I was driving with my best friend up the Saw Mill Parkway from New York City late at night. The yards visible from the highway were populated with these glowing nocturnal lit up Christmas creatures by the dozens, presumably for our, the passerbys', benefit. We laughed and talked about how hideous they were, feeling a twinge of snobbery having been raised by parents whose holiday decorations were far more understated and, in my opinion, tasteful. She suggested printing signs and and duct taping them over the inflatables heads that say, "THIS IS TACKY!" or "PLASTIC TAKING OVER OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!" We didn't realize that this was actually a larger cultural issue until I came across this article in the New York Times:

Turns out the things are called "Airblowns" and that a lot of other people appreciate them as little as we do. And, on the flip side, a whole world of consumers are excited by them or at least have been swayed by their "plug-in and go" decorating appeal:

"...the inflatables have brought the notion of Christmas self-expression to another plane. Now, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that televised triumphal march that inaugurates the season, can live on in miniature for weeks at a time, swaying and bobble-heading across the front lawn of anyone willing to pay the electric bill — maybe a thousand dollars if you keep them inflated all the time, less if you leave the skins of your Christmas characters sprawled on the ground most of the day, their crumpled faces staring blankly at the sky or the sod, depending."

So it seems like these holiday companions or here to stay, for a few seasons anyway. I am secretly hoping, their appeal will peak or they will get so large and obnoxious and will be up long enough to be violating all kinds of zoning laws. Or, they will suffer from a rash of Airblown backlash and like papering houses at Halloween, the new delinquent Christmas activity will be the deflation of the Santas, reindeer, and plastic Christmas globes by the hand of any spiteful neighbor or restless teenager. Or at the very least, they will die a slow death, Christmas by Christmas, due to their owner's obscene electric bills. Until then, I suppose they will continue to be born over and over again in front yards everywhere, with just the flip of a switch.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cate West engaged (to Dave Zahl)!

Best news ever!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2 quotes from Melanchthon (and a photo from Deirdre's bridal shower)

"Scripture differs from human reason in its view of the power of the
law. Scripture calls law 'the power of anger', 'the power of sin',
'the scepter of the avenger', 'lightning', 'thunder'. Human reason
calls it 'a corrector of crimes' and 'an instructor in living'."

"For the putting to death, the judgment, and the confounding of the
sinner, wrought by the Spirit of God through the law, begin the
justification and moreover the genuine baptism of man. And for this
reason, just as the Christian life must certainly begin with the
knowledge of sin, so Christian doctrine must begin with the function
of the law."

Quote from "Petulia" (1968)

"As I said to mother, 'the values we live by just don't seem to amount to anything at all any more; our kids can chuck out 2000 years of Western civilization and Christianity just as though it wasn't worth a red cent.' Mother's reply surprised and really sort of tickled me: 'It's easy to be an angel when you're old and all worn out, and nobody wants you any more.'"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

JAZ's picks from YouTube:






(Click the numbers above to view the links!)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Show Me on the Doll - pt. 2 (Click Me!) is hosting my newest mix! This one features a few of my very own edits, and, as always, some special records. Bon appetite!

Remembering (Big Trouble in Little China) -

and also, this:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quotes from Steven Paulson & Eberhard Jungel

"If I were speaking today of love, which bears all things, I could perhaps say that the Joint Declaration (and its confusion of law and gospel) 'is being economical with the truth'." (Paulson, p. 104, from The Gospel of Justification in Christ)

"There's a position on this matter which one encounters among English-speaking exegetes. According to this view, the message of justification was limited to setting aside the Jewish 'identity markers' (e.g., cirmcumcision, Sabbath observance, etc.) for Gentile Christians, but it had no relevance to Jewish Christians. This view, I believe, founders on the fact that Paul speaks of the justification of the ungodly in the same context as he speaks of the justification of Abraham (Rom. 4:5). Furthermore, it would be difficult to grasp why, in Galatians and Romans, Paul, with his systematic interpretation of the Gospel as a message about the Cross that justifies sinners, had undoubtedly devoted so much attention to such a subject." (Jungel, p. xxxi-xxxii, Justification: The Heart of the Christian Faith)

p.s., Hooray! Simeon has arrived for Thanksgiving (see above for further details).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Golden Ticket

Golden Ticket (mix) - Click Me to Download!

(Pt. 1 – “Waiting for Guffman” intro)
1. Fern Kinney: Baby, Let Me Kiss You
2. Love International: Dance on the Groove (and do the funk)
3. Rosebud: Money
(Pt. 2 – “Swamp at Dusk”)
4. Liquid Mask: Just-A-Moment
5. Mike Oldfield: Five Miles Out
6. Jerry Harrison: Worlds in Collision
7. Cat Stevens: Was Dog a Doughnut?
8. El Coco: Love Vaccine
(Pt. 3 – “Optimum Aviary”)
9. Harry Thuman: Underwater (@ 33)
10. That Thing: That Thing
11. Discotheque: Disco Special
12. Queen Samantha: Take a Chance
13. (This one is a surprise, but my hunch is that you'll recognize it!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dream Chimney

For those interested in excellent (often obscure) music, you might consider visiting (click me!). I am now one of their contributors, under the name: "JAZ Chimney", and will be posting new songs daily from here on out. xoxoxo

Monday, October 30, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lutheran (noun) vs. Lutheran (adjective)

From Gene Veith's Blog today -

Lutheran (noun) vs. Lutheran (adjective)

In answer to your question, Dustin, being Lutheran has to do with being a Christian whose sole hope is the Gospel, who has a theology of the Cross rather than Glory (that is, grows closer to Christ in the experience of weakness, suffering, and defeat rather than strength, power, and victory), who has a sense of vocation (that God is in the ordinary tasks of life that He calls us to), who recognizes the depths of human sin and also the depths of God's grace... Someone with at least some of these characteristics I describe can be said to be, figuratively and at least some degree, Lutheran.

Yes, I am aware that Dostoevsky is not a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and that I could not commune with him and he certainly would not commune with me. Yes, I know he was a member of the Russian Orthodox church. But you don't see much salvation by works or even by piety in Dostoevsky's novels. There is a sense in which you don't have to be a Lutheran (noun) to be Lutheran (adjective) . (There is also a sense in which not all Lutherans are Lutheran.)

---- Obviously, this blog is much the latter, and not at all the former. -JAZ

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Coming Up Short (another mix)

Coming Up Short (mix) -- Click Me!

1. Disco Power Play: The Crazy Frog
2. Major Swellings: Assquake
3. Osmonds: I, I, I,
4. Alan Parsons Project: Mammagamma Instrumental
5. Roxy Music: The Main Thing
6. Eno / Byrne: Regiment (@45)
7. Space Art: Laser in November
8. Quartz: Quartz 1
9. New Order: Mesh (@ 33)
10. Kazino: Binary
11. Jerry Harrison: Worlds in Collision
12. Cat stevens: was dog a doughnut
13. Quantum Jump: Lone Ranger
14. Landscape: Japan
15. Giampiero Boneschi: Saturn’s Ambush
16. Polyrock: Rain

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Is boogie allowed on board?" (a mix)

"Is boogie allowed on board?" (mix) -- Click Me!

1. Chalice: Loosen Up
2. Billy Thorpe: Stimulation
3. Greg Kihn Band: Love Never Fails
4. Soft Rocks: Double Gepardou
5. Vivien Vee: Alright
6. Baja: Mascara (vocal)
7. KID: Hupendi Musiki Wangu
8. David Joseph: Live It Up (Nite People)
9. British Colony: Have You Ever Seen Me Dancin'?
10. Suzy Q: Get On Up and Do It Again
11. Mantus: Boogie to the Bop
12. Michael Jackson: Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
13. Chas Jankel: 3,000,000 Synths
14. David Astri: Dancing Digits
15. Purple Flash Orchestra: We Can Make It (instrumental)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A quote from the movie "Patton" (1970), a commentary on particular elements of the blogosphere.

Cartright: "General, I just want to make a report on a private poll I've been taking."

Patton: "Mmm? What poll?"

Cartright: "The fan mail: 11% con 89% pro. And that 11% of protest in most cases is both obscene and anonymous, but the pro letters are mostly from relatives and servicemen."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some quotes from, or relating to Augustine's debates with Pelagius:

First off, consider this quote from Peter Brown (not the disco king, singer of "Do you wanna get funky with me?" and song-writer behind Madonna's smash hit, "Material Girl"). He writes of Julian of Eclanum, who took up the Pelagian torch, arguing against Augustine, at the end of Augustine's life, on matters of predestination. Do note that Augustine's reaction to Aristotle is similar to that of Luther (re: Aristotle). Here it is:

“Julian had been a singularly challenging opponent…In his use of Aristotle, he anticipates a Christian humanism such as would only be realized 700 years later. The ‘Council of the Aristotelians’, which Augustine jeeringly dismisses as the last court of appeal of the Pelagians, would meet – in the university of Paris, in the thirteenth century: and it would include s. Thomas Aquinas, whose humans synthesis Julian had anticipated on many points.” (Brown, p. 389)

Next, I offer an excerpt from Augustine's "Spirit and the Letter", which sounds very much like a critique of the New Perspective on Paul (and, yes, me thinks the connection between the New Perpective and Pelagius is worth noting!):

"We cannot suppose that the apostle means here, by the law by which no man is justified, the law of ancient rites, in which many commandments were figuratively conveyed (as in that of circumcision itself); for he goes on immediately to define the law of which he was speaking, in the words: 'for through the law is the knowledge of sin.'" (#14, p. 204)

Lastly, here is a quote from Augustine regarding the Law (as "the letter that killeth", a.k.a., the 2nd Use of the Law). Augustine spends a huge portion of Spirit and the Letter explaining this backhanded action of the Law. Whether or not one believes in a Third Use, I am struck again and again by how few churches ever teach (i.e., from the pulpit) this function of the Law. It is as though most Christians and churches, having assumed the will to be "free", have entirely lost this idea. I ask: how many evangelical parishes ever acknowledge this "usus theologicus" / 2nd use of the Law where the Christian life is concerned. Calvin, for example, didn't think it was "primary" but still thought it was true for Christians. Maybe, the word "challenge", in contemporary church lingo, represents at least some understanding of the idea that the Law is often (understatement as far as my theology is concerned) hard to swallow. I wonder how many preachers who believe in the Third Use of the Law (i.e., that it can instruct) ever use the Law to convict? I, personally, am struck by its absence from the horizon of most church teaching and preaching. Yet the contemporary world of psycho-therapy (be it great or awful) seems to far more aware of this idea and its implications, where counseling scenarios are concerned. I was surpised to see how much Augustine has to say about this 2nd Use aspect of the Law, as found in his reading of the Bible. Seriously, it is this point, that "the letter killeth", that both gives the title to the famous work from which it is quoted (the spirit and the letter), and comprises the majority of this famous text's content. What I found is that Augustine actually sounds much more like Luther on the Law than he does on the matter of the will. But perhaps Paul was just blowing smoke when he wrote about it in his letter to the Roman church. Augustine didn't think so, and this quote nicely summarizes the position I'm referring to vis-a-vis the 2nd Use of the Law:

“The law, that is, contributes nothing to God’s saving act: through it he does but show man his weakness, that by faith he may take refuge in the divine mercy and be healed." (#15, p. 205)

p.s., the photo is of Peter Brown. Guess which one.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Urban T. Holmes' quotes:

Urban T. Holmes quotes, taken from Education for Liturgy, 1981.

Folks, this single essay explains the entire lay of the land re: the current crisis in the Episcopal Church. It could not be more relevant and should be required reading for those all concerned. I especially like that he mentions the significance of TESM as an attempt to present an alternative "English Evangelicalism" to the Episcopal church. I start with that particulare quote and then include a "few" - a John Zahl few - others:

“But I do not see smooth sailing ahead as we seek to develop the theological implications of the 1979 BCP. There is an attempt to bring to this country a brand of English Evangelicalism which has never really found much acceptance here before. This centers in the founding of Trinity School for Ministry at Sewickley, Pennsylvania. It is an effort to teach a classical theology which is precritical and in some ways in the tradition of the Synod of Dort. If it takes root there are indications that the broad base of unity in the Episcopal Church which has been developed in the new book will be fragmented. Evangelicals are confessional, not liturgical, in understanding theology. Lex orandi lex credendi is not their position. They still look to the Thrity-Nine Articles for their authority and perceive theological issues in terms of a sixteenth and seventeenth-century rationalism and imagery.” (p. 138)

“It is evident that Episcopalians as a whole are not clear about what has happened. The renewal movement in the 1970s, apart from the liturgical renewal, often reflects a nostalgia for a classical theology which many theologians know has not been viable for almost two hundred years. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is a product of a corporate, differentiated theological mind, which is not totally congruent with many of the inherited formularies of the last few centuries. This reality must soon come home to roost in one way or another.” (p. 137)

“For those of us that believe that the theological emphases of the 1979 book are appropriate for people in late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries this is a splendid opportunity. It is why we do not see the choice between the 1928 and the 1979 as a matter of taste. It is more a question of truth for our time. Two standard BCPs would be theologically naïve, to put it kindly. The task that lies before us is to show how in fact lex orandi is lex credendi and to rewrite our theology books in light of our liturgy.” (p. 137)

“Liturgy is not only concerned with symbolic reality, it is also profoundly theological…to participate in liturgy is to make ourselves liable to theological education.” (pp. 116-117)

“in 1946…Liturgical renewal was not a priority in the General Convention and education was clearly needed.” (p. 124)

“The desire to do something about the overly long, repetitious communion service had been the center of agitation for prayer book revision all along.” (p. 124)

“Most people really did not believe that there was a problem – church attendance was up – or, if they sensed a problem, they were fearful of doing too much too fast. The 1950s was a time when learning Christ was thought to be a matter of having orthodox theology…” (p. 126)

“Shepherd’s point was that the Reformers had made liturgy subject to a doctrinal norm outside itself, and had failed to see that it is not an object for teaching right doctine, but it is a subject for God’s invisible action…This is a marvelous vision, which seems to me particularly Eastern in its spirit.” (p. 130)

“But liturgy is also the product of a culture and the presuppositions of that culture. What made the 1928 Book of Common Prayer a difficult book to revise was that the culture and its theological concepts which produced the Book of Common Prayer in the sixteenth century no longer existed.” (p. 131)

“The 1960s was a time when theologians became aware of the bankruptcy of so-called ‘classical theology’. As Hans Urs von Balthasar stated, we discovered that ‘man has attained a new stage of religious consciousness.’ He has changed from a ‘mirror’ to a ‘window’.” (p. 131)

“Shepherd himself spoke well to these points… ‘Another major dimension of liturgical change and renewal today is the inner spirituality of the Church and its appropriate forms, which are capable of being effective means of communication…the root of this dilemma lies in the profound shift of philosophical approaches to man’s understanding of the reality of which he is a part. In one sense it is the age-long tension between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’, between an ontological and existential way of looking at reality.” (p. 131)

“The shift, then, in liturgical renewal in the Episcopal Church coming at this time away from Cranmer and the Tudor deity should not then be at all surprising. It is unfortunate in one sense – although strategically understandable – that we were not clear to ourselves and to others that a real theological crisis lay behind the liturgical movement. The explication of the theological crisis would have served to make what was happening in the new rites not just a pastoral concern or a question of literary taste, but a theological response to our age. It would probably have also made revision even that much more controversial.” (pp. 131-132)

“They had been out of seminary too long and were too threatened.” (p. 133)

"The influence of the artist Sting, and his helpful contributions to the new selection of Collects in the 1979 Book, is little known to many. Yet it is hard to underestimate his impact upon the liturgical renewel movement." (p. 133)

“With the publication of STU and the pressure for prayer book revision building, it was inevitable and right that a counter pressure build. In some ways religious conflict is the most unpleasant, and the founding of the Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer (SPBCP) in the spring of 1971 brought out into the open a fundamental rift in the Episcopal Church.” (p. 133)

“Often SPBCP is caricatured as a group of dilettantes with an inordinate fondness for 16th century English…The caricature is unfair. Their interest was in the rhetoric of the trial services, true; but even more they were concerned for the theology. They were correct when they said, as they did repeatedly and sometimes abrasively, that the theologies of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and STU were different. The SLC probably was strategically wise in not affirming this too loudly, but its members knew that the SPBCP was correct. There is a clear theological change.” (p. 134)

“The members of the SPBCP clearly hold to a classical – I might say ‘precritical’ – theology…My personal disagreement with their position is theological. I disagree with the viability of sixteenth-century theology.” (p. 134)

“There was the continuing debate – which was solved finally in the spirit of Anglican compromise – over whether Christ ‘gives’ or ‘gave’ himself for us, as stated in the words just before communion.” (p. 135)

(from Prayer Book studies 29, by Charles Price) “PrBCP (the proposed Book which in 1979 became the official Book) seeks to express the fullness of the Christian Faith, as has every earlier Anglican Prayer Book. Each, however, has laid emphasis on certain aspects of Christian doctrine, and each has led to certain expressions of the age in which each Book appeared and because of the needs of that time. PrBCP is no exception to this rule. Certain aspects of Christian doctrine receive a stress somewhat different from that in BCP and previous books.” (p. 36, 1976)

“As ambiguous and overly cautious – undoubtedly intentionally – as Price’s statement is, it reflects the growing theological sophistication of the Episcopal Church. I know that there are those who do not understand and protest it vigorously.” (p. 136)

“The new prayer book has, consciously or unconsciously, come to emphasize that understanding of the Christian experience which one might describe as a postcritical apprehension of symbolic reality and life in the community.” (p. 137)

“As I said at the beginning of this essay, liturgy educates. Ultimately it provides a theological education. Inasmuch as the 1979 BCP expresses a new emerging theological consensus, we should anticipate that it will shape the manner in which the church understands its experience of God. It is the source of our learning.” (p. 139)


I am really enjoying my netflix membership at the moment. If you would like to become my netflix "friend", which would mean that you could see my movie ratings (all 200+) and the movies in my queue, just post your email address and I'll send you an invite. --JAZ

Monday, September 18, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

If you who haven't noticed the discussion re: Law / Gospel from the Tyndale quote, and would like to read it:


My three least favorite actors:

Tom Hanks, Sean Connery (though he stars in three of my favorite movies: Darby O'Gill and the Little people, Zardoz, and Marnie), and Robin Williams.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Reading list of the non-Calvinist, evangelical history of the Anglican communion (i.e., not Calvin and not Anglo-Catholic, reflecting Luther's primary influence upon the English Reformation):

J. B. Lightfoot - the Christian Ministry

Peter Toon - Evangelical Theology 1833-1856

Paul Avis - The Church in the Theology of the Reformers, & Anglicans and the Christian Church (esp. Chapter 15 on Julius Hare)

Henry Wace - Principles of the Reformation

Tyng - Lectures on the Law and Gospel

T. H. L. Parker - English Reformers

W. H. Griffith Thomas - The Principles of Theology

Hooker's - Learned Discourse on Justification

P. E. Hughes - Theology of the English Reformers

J. Atkinson - Martin Luther and the birth of Protestantism

Fitz Allison - The Rise of Moralism

--find these books, read them, circulate them. they represent and document that which has almost entirely been lost!--

Monday, September 11, 2006

William Tyndale quote (on law and gospel):

"Here see ye the nature of the law, and the nature of the evangelion;
how the law is the key that bindeth and damneth all men, and the
evangelion [is the key that] looseth them again. The law goeth before,
and the evangelion followeth. When a preacher preacheth the law, he
bindeth all consciences; and when he preacheth the gospel, he looseth
them again. These two salves (I mean the law and the gospel) useth God
and his preacher, to heal and cure sinners withal. The law driveth out
the disease and maketh it appear, and is a sharp salve, and a fretting
corosy [corrosive], and killeth the dead flesh, and looseth and
draweth the sores out by the roots, and all corruption. It pulleth
from a man the trust and confidence that he hath in himself, and in
his own works, merits, deservings, and ceremonies, [and robbeth him of
all his righteousness, and maketh him poor.] It killeth him, sendeth
him down to hell, and bringeth him to utter desperation, and prepareth
the way of the Lord, as it is written of John the Baptist. For it is
not possible that Christ should come to a man, as long as he trusteth
in himself, or in any worldly thing, [or hath any righteousness of his
own, or riches of holy works.] Then cometh the evangelion, a more
gentle pastor, which suppleth and suageth the wounds of the
conscience, and bringeth health. It bringeth the Spirit of God; which
looseth the bonds of Satan, and coupleth us to God and his will,
through strong faith and fervent love, with bonds too strong for the
devil, the world, or any creature to loose them. And the poor and
wretched sinner feeleth so great mercy, love, and kindness in God,
that he is sure in himself how that it is not possible that God should
forsake him, or withdraw his mercy and love from him; and boldly
crieth out with Paul, saying, 'Who shall separate us from the love
that God loveth us withal?'"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cranmer, argues against semi-Pelagianism:

(taken from his "A Sermon of the Salvation of Mankind")

"First, you shall understand, that in our justification by Christ it
is not all one thing, the office of God unto man, and the office of
man unto God. Justification is not the office of man, but of God; for
man cannot make himself righteous by his own works, neither in part,
nor in the whole; for that were the greatest arrogance and presumption
of man that Antichrist could set up against God, to affirm that a man
might by his own works take away and purge his own sins, and so
justify himself.

But justification is the office of God only, and is not a thing which
we render unto him, but which we receive of him not
which we give to him, but which we take of him, by his free mercy, and
by the only merits of his most dearly beloved Son, our only redeemer,
Savior, and justifier, Jesus Christ: so that the true understanding of
this doctrine, we be justified freely by faith without works, or that
we be justified by faith in Christ only, is not, that this our own act
to believe in Christ, or this our faith in Christ, which is within us,
doth justify us, and derserve our justification unto us (for that were
to count ourselves to be justified by some act or virtue that is
within ourselves); but the true understanding and meaning thereof is,
that although we hear God's word, and believe it; although we have
faith, hope, charity, repentance, dread, and fear of God within us,
and do never so many works thereunto; yet we must renounce the merit
of all our said virtues, of faith, hope, charity, and all other
virtues and good deeds, which we either have done, shall do, or can
do, as things that be far too weak and insufficient, and imperfect, to
deserve remission of our sins, and our justification; and therefore we
must trust only in God's mercy, and that sacrifice which our high
priest and Savior Christ Jesus, the Son of God, once offered for us
upon the cross, to obtain thereby God's grace and remission, as well
of our original sin in baptism, as of all actual sincommitted by us
after our baptism, if we truly repent, and turn unfeignedly to him
again. So that, as St. John the Baptist, although he were never so
virtuous and godly a man, yet in this matter of forgiving sin, he did
put the people from him, and appointed them unto Christ, saying thus
unto them, 'Behold, yonder is the lamb of God, which taketh away the
sins of the world'; even so, as great and godly a virtue as the lively
faith is, yet it putteth us from itself, and remitteth or appointeth
us unto Christ, for to have only by him remission of our sins, or
justification. So that our faith in Christ (as it were) saith unto us
thus: It is not I that take away your sins, but it is Christ only; and
to him only I send you for that purpose, forsaking therein all your
good virtues, words, thoughts, and works, and only putting your trust
in Christ."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A excerpt from John Burwell:

"While I was in seminary, 'renewal' was the current buzzword used by all. 'Renewal parishes' were springing up all over the country, and we were told that the key to the future of the church lay in renewing congregations. We were also told that in order for renewal to happen, the traditional hymns needed to be replaced with praise music from guitars and pianos (keyboards were not yet mainstream) and above all, the staid, old, worn-our Rite One liturgy had to go. rite One was seen to bee too penitential. We were being told that no young person could ever identify with it.

"I didn't buy that. Just five years before seminary, I had rediscovered my Lord in the middle of a Rite One Eucharist, and I was 25 years old at the time. And a couple of years after that rediscovery, I heard my call to ordained ministry during a Rite One Morning Prayer service! Somehow, in spite of antiquated prayers with 'thees and thous' and in spite of an organ playing hymns -- somehow, God spoke to me anyway. I wondered -- could the people pushing renewal be missing the mark, at least a little? I began to attend renewal churches, to analyse what they had that the un-renewed parishes didn't. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't simply modern music or contemporary language. There was a sense of joy and a sense of belonging -- a feeling of community and a sense of purpose. In these renewed parishes, worship seemed to be fun -- and there was a feeling that the people wanted to share the joy they had with others. It seemed to me that the rite being used or the music being sung was of a secondary importance.

"So why did everyone insist on Rite Two with 'renewal' music? I theorized the insistence was circumstantial. After a person got 'turned on' they identified with the rite and the setting in which their renewal first occured. Since they got their 'happy feeling' in a Rite Two setting with guitars and praise music, and since they didn't have that feeling back when they went back to a church with rite one and organ hymns, they assumed it was the style of worship. And since being around non-renewed, joy-less people robbed them of their warm fuzzy feeling, they cam to believe that renewal could only occur in a contemporary setting.

"While still in seminary I heard a call from the Lord to renew a traditional parish. I felt called to take the joy and sense of community (i.e., low-church sensibilities) and apply it in a traditional setting. It seemed to me that God was calling me to renew, and to do it using Rite One and traditional surroundings. My fellow classmates thought I was crazy. They said I wasn't being realistic, and all I would be doing is tying God's hands. They said it would never work. Church of the Holy Cross provided me with the opportunity to test that call from the Lord. They were wrong. It worked."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Dear All,

I arrived in Charleston, on Saturday for Andrew Pearson's wonderful wedding to Lauren. Attended fantastic, refreshing services, both contemporary and Rite 1, at Church of the Holy Cross, Sullivan's Island where I have now begun my summer placement, which is already proving an amazing opportunity to learn much about top-notch parish ministry. Such a joy to be back in the South (not to mention near the beach)!

Love, JAZ

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A really funny tattoo:

and another:

For more of the same, and some of them are very hilarious, check out these links (be warned, some of these are graphic, and/or gross):

Click Me!
Click Me 2!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A sermon from Simeon Zahl:

Peterhouse Sermon: June 4, 2006 (Pentecost)

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Acts 2:1-21
Rom. 8:22-27

- It is appropriate on this Pentecost Sunday to talk about the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. If you are anything like me, when you think of the Spirit, you might think of some vaguely positive but non-descript way of talking about God. The Spirit is sort of nice and benign and everwhere, and is mainly associated with feeling loved, with inspiring the Biblical writers, with beautiful sunsets, and, for at least some of you, with speaking in tongues. And it is true that the Spirit does nice things for us, as our readings today tell us: he is our ‘Comforter’ or ‘Helper.’ He ‘intercedes for us’ in prayer when we do not know how to pray as we ought. He creates unity and enables communication between Christians, as at the first Pentecost. These are all very nice things, and we are happy that the Spirit does them for us.
- But our passages today tell us that there is also what you could call a ‘darker side’ to the Spirit. Jesus tells us in the Gospel passage: ‘I will send [the Comforter] to you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment.’ Reprove? ‘Reprove’ is not a very happy word, nor is it very vague. It is troubling. Many other translations translate it ‘convict.’ An unsettling word. We do not wish to be convicted of anything. What comfort is there in conviction?
- The Romans passage, too, points to a less pleasant than usual view of the Spirit: ‘For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.’ We who have the Spirit ‘groan within ourselves.’ It is clear from the context that this ‘groaning’ is not a sort of longing or yearning so much as the response to a real feeling of pain. It is a metaphor from childbirth, a metaphor of pain. Jesus, in the same chapter from which our Gospel reading is taken, identifies this Spirit-related pain with birth pangs.

-What are we to make of this ‘dark side’ of the Spirit? What does it mean that the Holy Spirit convicts us, and makes us to feel ‘birth pangs’? In trying to answer this question, I was struck by a remarkable quotation from a man named Christoph Blumhardt, a 19th century German preacher, and a very wise man, about whom I happen to be writing my doctoral disseration.
- Blumhardt explains about this side of the Holy Spirit in the following way: ‘Although people do sometimes have a sense of peace with God, ...nevertheless, in a given situation it is not so much peace with God that is the true mark of the Holy Spirit at work, but birth pangs and a sense of deep unsettlement.’ [repeat quote] I think Blumhardt is right about this. It is worth exploring what he said a little bit.
- So let us ask ourselves, then: do we see any of these symptoms in ourselves? Do you feel unsettled by anything in your life this morning? Have you been taken out of your comfort zone in a profound way? For example, often people like my wife and me, who come to Cambridge to study from abroad, feel unsettled and out of our comfort zone for a long time here.
- Or are you perhaps anxious about exams you still have to take, or, about the results of exams you have already taken? Or perhaps a job or funding application you are waiting to hear about? Often, these types of things can make us feel deeply unsettled.
- So what about Blumhardt’s other ‘sign of the Spirit’; what about ‘birth pangs’? Let me ask: are you hurting right now for some reason? Last year, when Bonnie and I were engaged and across the world from each other, I felt very lonely. It hurt to be alone, so far from her. I think this loneliness was a ‘birth pang.’ Or maybe there is a different pain, the pain of not knowing what the future holds? A close friend here in Cambridge moved here to study with the expectation that his house back home would sell soon, and he and his family would be able to live off of that money. 9 months have passed now, and the house still hasn’t sold, and that uncertainty is very painful for him. That feeling, of helplessness in the face of the future, of being thwarted in our will and our desires, is also a ‘birth pang,’ I think.
- We all know of these pains: of feeling unsettled, of living in uncomfortable anticipation of some result, of not having as much power over the future as we would like. The curious thing about our passages today is not their testimony that such pain exists in our lives, but that it is associated quite directly in John and in Romans with the presence of the Holy Spirit of God. My father sometimes describes this curious correlation in paradoxical terms: talking about God, he calls it ‘the presence of His absence.’
- It would be nice, of course, if I could explain to you, neatly and theologically, this strange relationship Scripture identifies between the Holy Spirit and the more uncomfortable feelings in our lives. But such an explanation is difficult. Why? Well, God is good, and we have heard again and again that he loves us. Why then, would He cause us these pains, even if they are only really just ‘birth pangs’? It would make more sense, would it not, to think of God only as the deliverer from the pains and the uncomfortable feelings, rather than as their cause also? And Deliverer he is, I assure you! Jesus himself calls the Spirit the ‘Comforter’ or ‘Helper,’ depending on your translation.
- But our passages today tell us that God is more than just a Deliverer, or at least that his style of deliverance is not always as straightforward as we might wish. Sometimes, his Deliverance hurts. Sometimes, truly divine ‘comfort’ and divine ‘help’ are deeply unsettling, and in fact feel very much like the opposite of what we want.
- This, then, would be one possible explanation for why the Spirit is so profoundly present not only in the obviously good things, but also in the unsettling ‘birth pangs.’ It is not an exhaustive explanation—I am not sure an exhaustive one is possible—but it is perhaps the chief explanation.
- So let me say it again: Often the places where we are hurting and where we are unsettled are the places where we have come in contact with a deep disconnect between what we desire for ourselves, on the one hand, and our power to bring it about, on the other. It is painful to run up against the limits of our self-determination. We see this clearly when we are trying to prepare as best we can for an exam: we can work very hard, but in the end we do not know what the questions will be, or how exactly they will be marked. There is an element of lack of control here, try as we might, and it is awful. Similarly, we are faced with the limits of our power when we have completed an exam or a piece of work or job application, and we are stuck in the limbo of waiting to hear how we did. In these cases, we know what we want—to succeed, to be affirmed, to get the job—but we are past the point where we can effect the result, no matter how important the result is to us.
- It is here, at the painful, awkward limit of our self-determination, at the limit of our power to control our own lives, that we are told today that the Spirit of God is present. To put it even a bit more strongly, the Spirit is perhaps most powerfully present, at least sometimes, when we experience the explicit defeat of our self-determination, the failure of our own power to effect what we desire. For it is here, here more than anywhere else, that the salvation of God can begin to have meaning for us.
- That is why Jesus can tell us, just a few verses after our passage today, that our sorrow will be turned to joy, like a mother’s pain is forgotten in the joy of the birth of her child: he says, ‘a woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. And you now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you.’

- The salvation of God begins with ‘birth-pangs.’ So the Bible tells us. But let us rest assured also of God’s promise, through his Spirit, that his salvation will end in joy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

PZ on blogging ethics:

Blogging Ethics

The ethics of blogging need to be addressed.

A couple of serious, bad things are happening:

First, character assassination has become routine on blog sites, both liberal and conservative. People are saying and implying things, without substantiation or information, about personalities, and this comes under an old category: libel. The English newspapers were the ‘90s equivalent of today’s blog threads, and a number of successful prosecutions for libel made them more hesitant to make personal attacks on the front page. Those papers are still up to it, but they check their stories now.

A lot of what we are reading on the blog threads comes under the heading of libel. This needs to change. I believe we all know that.

Second, anonymous posts put authorities in various fields at the mercy of people who do not know what they are talking about. We say this is good – a democratizing tendency; that cyberspace knows no hierarchies or professional closed-shops. But it is not all good, at all. People who have no experience and no background in church life are able to attack people who have served for decades and who do know something about what they are saying. For myself, I am often labeled as “non-Anglican,” because I stress the Protestant dimension of the old Church, by people who seem to have fled into episcopalianism just a few years ago and simply do not like the actual history of the denomination into which they have fled. It is not right to be labeled as “non-Anglican” when you have grown up in that church forever and simply were fed by a different stream within it. I get the idea that some of the people who go on the attack here have just not read very much, or even experienced very much. The point is, anonymous bloggers get by with outrageous statements without having to give account for them.

Third, blog-threads have the potential to unleash deeply inbuilt aggression within all of us. Because we do not have to deal with the writer face-to-face, there is too little discretion and not enough thoughtfulness. When I dissent with someone whom I know, then I have to couch what I say in a way that can be “heard,” at least in principle. But when I don’t know the person – don’t even know if he or she is using his or her real name – I can say anything I wish, and just tear off in the opposite direction, without fear of having to look into his/her eyes. The potential for Original-Sin aggression to get in the mix on the internet is high. I know it in myself, and it is not good.

I would suggest – and several seem to be saying this now – that internet postings, and especially on those lethal blog threads, be limited to people who are willing to use their real names and list their actual e-mail addresses. Anonymous or coded names should be dropped. That would help. Also, something like libel legislation needs to be thought through in terms of the web. Innuendo and at times vicious personal attack really needs to stop. How many people who are reading this find that they are losing sleep after checking the threads on various sites? And I mean conservative as well as liberal, “reasserter” as well as “reappraiser.” How many people are going to bed mad? Ich frage nur.


Friday, May 26, 2006


Thursday, May 25, 2006

For All You Ladies:

"Susie has been bringing you Alaskan Bachelors Since 1987!"

Click Me!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gerhard Forde on Sanctification:

from "Christian Spirituality"--

(pp. 31-32) "But if we are saved and sanctified only by the unconditional grace of God, we ought to be able to become more truthful and lucid about the way things really are with us. Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little rediculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, it doesn't seem to get any easier. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways. It seems more and more unjust to me that now that I have spent a good part of my life 'getting to the top,' and I seem just about to have made it, I am already slowing down, already on the way out. A skiing injury from when I was sixteen years old acts up if I overexert myself. I am too heavy, the doctors tell me, but it is so hard to lose weight! Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I'm getting tired! It's just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? I wouldn't think so! One should not, I expect, mistake encroaching senility for sanctification! "But can it be, perhaps, that it is precisely the unconditional gift of grace that helps me to see and admit all that? I hope so. The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain humor, a certain down-to-earthness."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rod Rosenbladt quote/photo (feat. Dave Zahl):

from "Solus Christus and the Pastor"--

(pp. 39-40) A Reformation pastor is called to preach Christ crucified to the congregation and to administer the sacraments to the congregation. Someone says, "But surely you don't mean that the pastor should be evangelizing believers from the pulpit?" Most evangelicals have no category for preaching Christ to a congregation of believers; their only category for preaching the Gospel is the evangelizing of pagans. But important as the latter is, the former is no less important.
Think of the inner soliloquy many Christians experience week by week. "There may have been grace for me when, as a sinner, I was initially converted. But now, having been given the Spirit of God, I fear that things have gotten worse in me rather than better. I have horribly abused all of God's good gifts to me. I was so optimistic in the beginning, when the pastor told me that Christ outside of me, dying for me, freely saved me by his death, and that the Holy Spirit now dwelling within me would aid me in following Christ. I looked forward to so much. But it has all gone badly (!). Others have no doubt done what God equipped them to do, but not I. I have used grace and Christ's shed blood as an excuse for doing things I probably wouldn't even have done as a pagan. I have rededicated myself to Christ more times than I can count. But it seems to stay the same, or even get worse, no matter what I do. Whatever the outer limits of Christ's grace are, I have certainly crossed them. I have utterly, consciously, and with planning aforethought blown it all.
"I guess I was never a Christian in the first place, because if I had been, I would have made some progress in the Christian life. Maybe I was never part of the elect. If I wasn't there's nothing I can do about that. Anyway, I am now beyond hope. I'll try going to church for a while longer, but I think I've tried every possible thing the church has told me to do. After that, I guess I'll return to paganism and 'eat, drink, and be merry' for the time I've got left. What else is there to do?"
First of all, he recognizes that the Law has done, and is doing, its work on him or her. The pastor realizes that what is needed in this case is not the Law but the Gospel. One of the effects of Wesleyan revivalism in this country has been the common conviction that genuine conversion always shows itself in measurable moral progress (and correlatively, the lack of such progress is evidence that no true regeneration has taken place.) so the still-sinning believer is led to believe that he is not now a believer at all. Luther recognized the deadliness of this sort of theology. He knew that any counsel that turns us back into ourselves for assurance is no assurance at all. To put the matter bluntly, Luther knew that the death and resurrection of Christ in our stead was strong enough in its effect to save even a Christian!

J. Budziszewski quote:

On the prolongation of adolescence, JB reminds us that "Adolescence is the span of time between the biological readiness to begin a family and the moral readiness to assume its responsibilities" (p.174) and he finishes the section with this paragraph:
"The unnatural prolongation of adolescence poses a variety of moral problems. Normal erotic desire is transmuted from a spur to marriage to an incentive for promiscuity. Promiscuity thwarts the attainment of moral wisdom, and makes conjugal love itself seem unattractive. Furthermore, prolonged irresponsibility is itself a sort of training, and a bad one. Before long the entire culture is caught up in a Peter Pan syndrome, terrified of leaving childhood. At this point even the responsibilities of marriage and family begin to lose their transformative character. Men in their forties with children in their twenties say “I still don’t feel like a grown-up,” “I still can’t believe I’m a father.” Their very capacity to face the moral life has been impaired."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Elert on "the question of the law's third function" --

(taken from Law & Gospel, pp. 38-39, - thanks Jady Koch!)

Is there such a thing as a "third use" or "third function" of the law in addition to the usus theologicus, elenchticus, or paedagogicus and the usus politicus? Melanchthon, the Formula of Concord, and Calvin as well, answered this question in the affirmative, but in different ways and for different reasons. Luther also is said to have "clearly espoused" the usus triplex legis (threefold function of the law), hence also a third function, at the conclusion of his Second Disputation Against the Antinomians held on January 13, 1538. Here in fact, at the conclusion, one finds the following sentences: "Why should the law be taught? the law is to be taufht for the sake of discipline ... that by this pedagogy men might come to Christ. Secondly, the law is to be taught in order to expose sin. Thirdly, the law is to be retained so that the saints may know which works God requires." One could hardly state the usus triplex more clearly. These sentences, however, represent a forgery.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wittgenstein quotes:

from "Culture and Value"

"Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For 'consciousness of sin' is a real event and so are despair and salvation through faith. Those who speak of such things (Bunyan for instance) are simply describing what has happened to them, whatever gloss anyone may want to put on it."

"Predestination: it is only possible to write like this out of the most dreadful suffering -- and then it means something quite different. But for the same reason it is not possible for someone to assert it as a truth, unless he himself says it in torment. -- It simply isn't a theory. -- Or, to put it another way: If this is truth, it is not the truth that seems at first sight to be expressed by these words. It's less a theory than a sigh, or a cry."

"Rules of life are dressed up in pictures. And these pictures can only serve to describe what we are to do, not justify it. Because they could provide a justification only if they held good in other respects as well. I can say: "Thank these bees for the honey as though they were kind people who have prepared it for you"; that is intelligible and describes how I should like you to conduct yourself. But I cannot say: "Thank them because, look, how kind they are!" -- since the next moment they may sting you.
Religion says: Do this! -- Think like that! -- but it cannot justify this and once it even tries to, it becomes repellent; because for every reason it offers there is a valid counter-reason. It is more convincing to say: "Think like this! however strangely it may strike you." Or: "Won't you do this? -- however repugnant you find it."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Blacklisted: Is Stephin Merritt a racist because he doesn't like hip-hop?

--taken from

Stephin Merritt is an unlikely cracker. The creative force behind the Magnetic Fields, Merritt is diminutive, gay, and painfully intellectual. His music is witty and tender. He plays the ukulele. He named his Chihuahua after Irving Berlin. And yet no less an influential music critic than The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones has used that word—"cracker"—to describe him. Frere-Jones has also called him "Stephin 'Southern Strategy' Merritt," presumably in reference to Richard Nixon's race-baiting attempt to crush the Democratic Party. These are heady words, part of a two-year online campaign of sorts by Frere-Jones (also a former Slate music critic) and the Chicago Reader music contributor Jessica Hopper to brand Merritt a racist. The charge: He doesn't like hip-hop, and on those occasions when he's publicly discussed his personal music tastes, he has criticized black artists.

The bizarre case against Merritt came to a head last month at the Experience Music Project's annual Pop Conference. Merritt was the keynote speaker, and in a panel conversation he described "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah," from Disney's legendarily racist 1946 musical Song of the South, as a "great song." He made clear, according to a partial transcript of the panel provided by his band mate Claudia Gonson, that he did not actually like Song of the South, calling it unwatchable and saying that it has just "one great song. The rest of it is terrible, actually."

This was too much for Hopper, who was in the audience and had already written on her blog that she intended to confront Merritt. She walked out in anger and wrote, falsely, that, "I did not have to ask Stephin Merrit [sic] of Magnetic Flds whether he was racist, because his nice, long elucidating comment about his love, NAY, obsession with racist cartoon, Song of the South, served as a pre-emptive answer. It's one thing to have 'Zippitty Doo Da' be your favorite song. It is another to lay in for Uncle Remus appreciation hour amidst a panel—('I love all of it,' he says)."

Of course Merritt had said no such thing. Later, when confronted with a transcript of the panel, Hopper retracted her comments. But not before other bloggers picked up the meme. Frere-Jones linked to a list of favorite recordings of the 20th century—one for each year—that Merritt had written for Time Out New York six years ago and noted that few of the artists or composers were black. I have never met Merritt, and I have no idea whether or not he hates black people. But neither do Sasha Frere-Jones and Jessica Hopper. The evidence on which they base their claims and insinuations—the fact that Merritt doesn't enjoy listening to select black artists and doesn't like most hip-hop—is flimsy stuff. Moreover, the whole of their sustained attack against Merritt is founded on the dangerous and stupid notion that one's taste in music can be interrogated for signs of racist intent the same way a university's admissions process can: If the number of black artists in your iPod falls too far below 12.5 percent of the total, then you are violating someone's civil rights.

"I've obviously said it already," Hopper told me when I asked her flat-out if Merritt is a racist. "I think there's some real questionable shit in what he thinks about race and music." Asked where that "questionable shit" can be found, Hopper referred me to a 2004 Salon interview in which Merritt said that he liked "the first two years of rap," including the first Run DMC record, but that he finds contemporary hip-hop boring and—wait for it—racist. "I think it's shocking that we're not allowed to play coon songs anymore," Merritt said, "but people, both black and white, behave in more vicious caricatures of African-Americans than they had in the 19th century. It's grotesque. … It probably would have been considered too tasteless for the Christy Minstrels." In the same interview, he made the moral error of not liking OutKast, whose single "Hey Ya!" was at the time serving as America's background music: "I'm desperately sick of hearing it."

Around the same time, in a New York magazine interview, Merritt again dared to publicly express his boredom with OutKast and furthermore said of Justin Timberlake: "I'm not really exposed to him except as a photographic image. He gives good photo shoot." Of Beyoncé and Britney Spears: "[Spears] would be absolutely meaningless if we didn't see pictures of her. Beyoncé is not famous for her songs, she's famous for that outfit. Which is not necessarily a bad thing."

A reasonable person would understand two things from these comments: 1) that Merritt believes contemporary popular music, whether it's produced by white people (Timberlake and Spears), or black people (Beyoncé), to be more concerned with selling an image than recording and performing songs; and 2) that, like much of America, he had heard as much OutKast as he cared to. Frere-Jones, who writes cogently and seriously about hip-hop and plays guitar and sings in his own carefully disorganized (and quite good) rock band, surveyed the above and reacted as though Merritt had stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium and declared that OutKast shall not pass. "[N]ote how eager Merritt is to dismiss Beyoncé, OutKast, Britney, and Justin, not just as singers and songwriters but as bearers of meaning. That's a bias. Two women, three people of color and one white artist openly in love with black American music. That's who he's biased against. You could say there's no pattern here. … You would then, hopefully, let me get a taste of whatever has made you so HIGH."

The final count in Merritt's indictment is a Playlist he wrote for the New York Times' Sunday Arts and Leisure section in May 2004. According to his band mate Gonson, the Times presented Merritt with a stack of forthcoming CDs to write about. He chose seven, and all of them were by white artists. To which Frere-Jones responded: "The new idea for Playlist at the New York Times is to find some rockist cracker and let him loose. … Let's watch Stephen [sic] Merritt swing a scythe through the fields of popular music with a blindfold on. Huh! Seven 'great' new pop records and not a person of color involved in a single one. That's one magical, coincidence-prone scythe you got there, Stephen."

I would refute Frere-Jones' posturing, but upon inspection there is no argument to refute. There is nothing but innuendo and implication. Frere-Jones is either too cowardly or too prudent to call Merritt a racist, but he doesn't have to—he lets sophistry do the work for him. It would be one thing if Frere-Jones were just some disgruntled OutKast fan with a MySpace page. But he is in fact a disgruntled OutKast fan with access to The New Yorker's pages and all the credibility and authority that go along with that. He ought to take the things he writes on his blog seriously.

I asked Frere-Jones what, precisely, he was trying to say about Merritt, but after promising to reply via e-mail, he never did. So, we are left to assume that his argument is something along the lines of: In order to not be racist, you have to like Beyoncé, or at least pretend to. Or we could give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he simply means that you must like, or publicly profess to like, some minimum number of black artists relative to the total number of artists you like. Which puts him in an awkward position with respect to Merritt, considering he has no earthly idea what other artists Merritt listens to, or why.

And even if he did: If black artists are underrepresented in my CD collection relative to the frequency with which black people are found in the general population, does that make me a racist? To even begin to believe that it does, you have to first maintain that racial preferences somehow logically relate to music preferences; that racists avoid music made by black people, and that people who aren't racist don't pay attention to the race of the artist when evaluating music. Both propositions are ludicrous. Anybody who has been to a frat party knows that people can simultaneously a) entertain racist attitudes and b) enjoy listening to hip-hop music created by black people. (In fact, Merritt's argument is that the latter tends to reinforce the former.)

By the same token, perfectly reasonable nonracist people take race and ethnicity into account in their musical preferences all the time. Hopper herself, whom I presume Frere-Jones would certify is kosher when it comes to the race-music axis, has complained bitterly on her blog of the "whiteness"—which she describes as "purposeful," "icky," and "dangerous"—of Merritt's music. So, if it sounds dangerously white, we can infer that she'd like it to sound like something else. More … what?

The closest thing to a coherent argument that can be gleaned from what Frere-Jones and Hopper are saying is that a genuine respect for our common dignity and humanity requires that we enjoy listening to hip-hop, and that we bend our intuitive aesthetic judgments about music to a political will—like eating our vegetables and avoiding dessert. "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah" may be catchy and delightfully mindless, but an understanding of its context requires you to reject its charms. And Beyoncé may be trite and boring, but your subtle racist ideology provokes that reaction, so you must find a way to appreciate her music.

And if you can't? Try harder, cracker.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas

Great current music coming out of Norway:

Eskimo Recordings are proud to unveil their debut artist album release, produced by two of the hottest leftfield dance artists around, namely Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and fellow Norwegian, Thomas M. Hermansen (aka Prins Thomas).

Lindstrøm is rapidly becoming one of the biggest new names on the electronic dance circuit, with a string of highly regarded EPs under his belt, including the recent underground smash ‘I Feel Space’. Often working alongside fellow Norwegian Prins Thomas, he’s remixed artists for labels from Wall of Sound to Clone and Kingsize and no remix package is complete these days without one of his analogue-heavy, Italo-esque reworkings.

Prins Thomas has made a name for himself as the remix king from Norway, working the likes of Kango’s Stein Massiv, Martini Bros, Flunk, Diskodans, Bermuda Triangle and Jackmaster Dahle amongst a host of other tip top names from the underground as well as releasing his own music on Feedelity and Rong Music.

Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas joined forces in 2003, after mutual admiration and inspiration of each others productions. Lindstrøm as muso-wizard and Prins Thomas as the nu-skool remix-champ. They both have a background from different Norwegian, and rather admittedly shameful, band-projects; ranging from punk to gospel via country to heavy metal to folk and psychedelia but they also share the same passion for collecting records and run their own labels Feedelity, Full Pupp and Tamburin from their Scandanavian liar. Besides working on various solo-projects, their main priority is their joint venture into the ever-expanding outer limits of futuristic disko and universal boogie! They both DJ, as well as performing a semi-live laptop-set which will be seen on a full world wide tour this autumn.

The Oslo-based producer/DJ Lindstrøm has been releasing tracks through Feedelity (the label he formed himself in 2003) and Steve ‘Fella’ Kotey’s like-minded Bear Funk imprint, garnering international acclaim which has recently seen him remixing the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The Juan McLean, Chicken Lips and Alden Tyrell. Now alongside Prins Thomas the duo unleash their highly anticipated debut long-player on the label that has given us defining mix CDs from The Glimmers, Optimo, Recloose, Rub N Tug, Headman, Ivan Smagghe and most recently Chromeo. Featuring Italo, funk and disco-influenced productions alongside the production spark genius that defined those lost halcyon releases of the post disco/punk era circa ’78-’84 Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas provide us with lush basslines, sublime melodies and rolling rhythms that cascade like snowflakes being hit by harsh early-morning sunlight – icy, but with a heart bursting with pure emotion. Throughout you can find the experimental energy of the continental space-disco of the Eighties which the pair still adore: melodic, synth-heavy and Moroder-esque, with arpeggiated basslines set to proto-house 4/4 grooves.

So stick it on and wrap yourself up in the basslines and melodies of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas’s sublime norse code.

Listen to audio clips here:

Click Me, then choose "scando-med cosmic disco - lindstrom, prins thomas & todd terje" on the right, under "special features" section

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Karl Holl excerpt:

taken from "The Reconstruction of Morality" (pp. 74-78)

"Luther also attacked the Nominalist position on the basis of actual fact. He said the idea that the supreme achievement of morality, to love God above all things, can be realized on the basis of pure reason is a gross self-deception. The presupposition that the will is able and willing to carry into effect what reason dictates is false. For the will secretly goes its own way alongside and in spite of reason. Because the will is fundamentally selfish, it would rather have no God at all or be God itself than surrender completely to him. We are unable, by natural effort, to give the invisible God what we owe him, our whole will.

"In opposistion to the Scholastics, Luther refused to recognize as moral in any sense the still lower level of action, the deed without any reference to God, the morality without religion. Such action is defective in its decisive element: motivation. The inescapable conclusion is that where love of God is not the decisive thing, self-love prevails. There is no inbetween, such as a 'neutral act'. Luther was not impressed by the Nominalistic sophism that in that case someone who does not commit adultery, murder, or theft would be committing a sin. He affirms this conclusion wholeheartedly. The statement would be absurd only if the one who avoids the crude offense were also free from the secret impulse of desire or anger. With this in mind, one should not hesitate to call even nonadulterers sinners according to the Sermon on the Mount. Even if we grant the improbable -- that a person might act completely virtuously -- the final motive can only be a selfish one when the thought of God is completely excluded. Thus even a deed that is pure in itself becomes sinful in God's sight, since its author is really obliged to serve God.

"Luther thus consciously destroyed all the tendencies toward a so-called autonomous morality which Scholasticism had developed. In the Lectures on Romans he sharpened the judgment of Augustine concerning the virtues of the heathen and vented his full fury upon Aristotle as a moral philosopher. this was not due to a lack of education or theological narrow-mindedness. He saw that no one is devoid of good impulses, and that an autonomous morality indeed represents an ennobling of the person. But he clearly saw the profound contrast between a religiously determined and a self-centered morality, and after the pattern of Paul did not hesitate to draw our the ultimate deductions. These two interpretations of morality are not related as two stages, in which there can be progress from one to the other through the attainment of a higher point of view. They are opposites. For the attitude is fundamentally different in each case. In one case, the ultimate goal is purely immanent; moral effort aims at self-perfection. In the other, duty is defined by an a priori divine order, and there is awareness of conditioning by another will. This does not mean submission, in apathy or ease, to one's fate. One can -- and according to Luther, one should -- freely affirm the duty arising from such submission, as well as the submission itself. Only by doing so does one assume the attitude toward God which God himself regards as alone appropriate. A forced service does not please God. When Luther emphasized the freedom of this submission as essential he laid the basis for an autonomy of a higher type with respect to the obligations imposed by God. At the same time he was perfectly aware that such an affirmation of the will of God demands a rupture, a renunciation of self-seekinf, and above all the recognitions that self-seeking even in its refined 'moral' form is a violation of God's rightful claims. The self-awareness of the merely 'moral' person will always struggle against such a recognition and just for this reason a religiously determined morality, as soon as it correctly understands itself, will always regard an 'autonomous' morality as a hindrance rather than as a preparation.

"This point of view matches the severity with which Luther maintained his demand for a constant, conscious relationship to God in contrast to the more moderate expectations of Scholasticism. While the constantly repeated slogan of the 'good intention' was ringing in his ears, he noted but little real earnestness in this connection. He accordingly characterized the idea of a 'virtual intention' as an easy self-consolation that surely makes Satan rejoice, since there is no better way to teach people to neglect their perpetual responsibility toward God. In the 'actual intention' he now recognized the basic error of the Scholastic interpretation -- a deficient appreciation of the depth out of which a true act of the will must be born. The idea in the church was that an individual had accomplished somthing if a momentary good intention had been induced. But such an act is nothing more than a fleeting frame of mind, a wish , a quickly forgotten resolution. If one were serious about arousing an act of the will, the question would soon arise whether a good intention is really attainable that easily. It would then become obvious to everyone that the will is divided and, more important, that a conscious act is always influenced by the impression left by one's total previous behavior on the substratum of the personality. Every attempt at an elevation of the soul has the whole leaden weight of one's natural being to contend with, along with the results of one's development. The effort must go much deeper; it must continually try to encompass the unconscious, too, and where the ascent to God is ernestly soulght, a furious battle takes place in which success can be given only by God himself. The awakened act praised by the church is at best only a feeble 'willingness to will'; in the spirit of Jesus one must judge even more severly that it is hyposcrisy. For the actual person, the always self-seeking ego, is not at all affected by it.

"Luther thus accomplished in the moral realm what he was accomplishing in the religious realm. He cleared out everything alien and inferior, all dilutions and accommodations by which the moral idea of Christianity had been distorted in the course of its evolution, and thus restored its original vigor. To return to the New Testament interpretation of morality was equivalent, however, to perceiving once again the chasm that separated it from the ordinary secular interpretation of life and the general principles prevailing in state and society."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise's Baby: A 'Blue-Eyed Beauty'

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise "joyously welcomed the arrival of a baby girl, Suri, today," Cruise's rep said in a statement after PEOPLE first broke the news Tuesday afternoon.

"The child weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches in length. Both mother and daughter are doing well."

Suri was born in an L.A.-area hospital – just down the hall from where Brooke Shields gave birth to her daughter Grier on the same day.

The birth went so smoothly that Holmes left the hospital within 24 hours. Holmes, Cruise and baby Suri are back home now and doing well.

Suri "has lots and lots of dark hair and big, blue eyes," says a source close to Holmes's family. "She's going to be a beautiful baby."

Adds Cruise's friend Kirstie Alley: "Tom does everything 150 percent, and fatherhood he does 300 percent. They're going to have a great kid."

The name Suri has its origins in Hebrew meaning "princess," or in Persian meaning "red rose."

Last October, barely six months into their romance, an ecstatic Cruise and Holmes revealed that they were expectant parents.

Cruise, 43, and Holmes, 27, had made no secret of their desire to start a family together: When asked by PEOPLE last June if they were planning to have children, Holmes smiled and said simply, "Yes."

Friends of the Toledo, Ohio-bred Holmes called her perfectly suited to her upcoming role. "She almost seems born for motherhood," said Oliver Hudson, actress Kate Hudson's brother and an old pal who costarred with Holmes in Dawson's Creek. "She's a nurturer. She's got mother qualities a lot of girls her age don't have."

Cruise, meanwhile, is "a great dad already," according to his pal, actress Leah Remini. He has two children from his marriage to Nicole Kidman: Isabella, 13, and Connor, 11, whom Cruise and Kidman adopted as infants. Remini told PEOPLE that both kids are "so cool…You can sit and talk to them about life."

As for marriage, Cruise and Holmes plan to tie the knot soon, Cruise said on the German TV program Wetten, dass..? on April 1. "In summer we want to get married. I won't let this woman get away."

Immediately ahead for the new dad: the May 5 release of Mission: Impossible 3. Holmes stars in the recently released satirical film about Washington politics, Thank You for Smoking.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Two exceprts from PZ's most recent "State of the Church" posting:

It is amazing. I heard about a sermon preached recently at a large and celebrated evangelical church (not in Pittsburgh), and it was that massive same-old, same-old. The preacher said that there are two questions we shall all be asked on Judgment Day: One, did we accept Christ? And Two, how did we do after we had accepted Christ? He said that he “guaranteed” that we would all be asked these two questions.

Now here is this preacher acting like Britney Spears: “Oops! I did it again.” Oops, I preached the Law again, to Christians. I started by preaching the Grace of God – that is, before you accepted Christ – but then, after you became a Christian, it’s the Law for you!

This is just the same thing we hear everywhere and Sunday after Sunday, from here to eternity. You preach forgiveness to sinners, then once they respond in joy to that great enabling word, you place their necks securely under the Law.


The best alien story ever written is the story of Christ’s coming to the earth. Why? Because it is truly an alien story. The gift of Grace is alien to the human condition. Grace is not Law. It does not accuse, nor does it demand, nor does it legislate, nor does it require. It sets all that aside. The best tag-line for a science-fiction move that has ever been written was written by St. Paul, when he said, “Christ is the end of the Law, for them that believe” (Romans 10:4).

That is alien wisdom. It could never have come from a human hand.

We would have put in requirements, or conditions, or “tweaked” it (a truly Legal phrase), or talked about “good cop, bad cop,” or put it in our own action-consequence lingo. We could never, ever have come up with something like, “Christ is the end of the Law.” And for Christians, no less.

St. Paul was not a “covenantal nomist.”

Flee churches that place nice Christian sufferers under the Law.

But… where will you go?

Click Me to read it all!

Fitz Allison quote:

from "Fear, Love, & Worship"--

(p.12) "A lot of nonsense is talked about our looking for God and our trying to find him. Yet, actually, the reverse is the case."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Simeon Zahl comment:

(excerpt taken from comment thread on Pontifications blog: Click Me to Read the full post and thread!)

"For me anyway, the thing I really disagree with about the ontological change model is that it assumes that the ontological change alters the individual’s relationship, pastorally, to the Law. That is why I am very nearly as unhappy with Calvin as with the RCC! Lex semper accusat. I have never met anyone who really experienced it otherwise, at least for any length of time, though I’m sure you will say your experience has been different in this regard than mine. If you can describe ontological transformation in such a way that a devolving of pastoral care into a course on the 3rd use of the Law is avoided, I might be able to subscribe to it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not possible.

"For the meantime, I will stick the simultaneous model which provides both hope and change, and a great deal of compassion, but also has proper wariness about the so-called 3rd Use. A former Christian recently referred to the 3rd Use as Christianity’s “bait and switch” tactic in terms of grace: they say it’s all grace, and then as soon as you’re “in” they turn it all around and it’s all about law again. I feel very strongly that this “bait and switch” is not the gospel, and that a justification that feels like that is not justification at all.

"I already responded to you at length a few months ago on John Camp, as you know, why, scripturally as well as pastorally, I cannot accept the infusion/ ontological change model. My position now is the same that it was then. I posted today simply to show support for Nathan, because I had noticed recently precisely the same (what I felt was a) misunderstanding on the part of many Catholics about the Lutheran conception of justification that he was lamenting. I don’t really expect to change your mind, Al! But I think it is significant that two people who agree with Luther but who don’t know each other seem to find the common RC characterization of the Lutheran view of justification wanting in precisely the same way. I think my previous response to you about infusion/ imputation covers the territory of why precisely it is wanting pretty well, or at least as well as I know how ( Click Me! )."

Monday, May 01, 2006

(mock) Contemporary Worship Song Titles -- a list by Art & John Zahl

"Fountain of Management"

"What I Want"

"Lord, May I Borrow Your Cup?"

"Land of Honor"

"All His Compartments"

"Lord, Your 'Yes' Is My 'If'"

"We Want To Be Real Jews"

"Double-Barrel Undone"

"Did You Mean It?"

"I'm Gonna Run for Jesus (the runner's theme)"

"We Are Your Gym"

"Kingdom Jamboree"

"God, You Are A River"

"See Thee In Me"

"Peel Me, God"

"Piece of God"

"Mighty Man of Categories"

"You Lord, My Favorite Choice"

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Karl Holl and Stanley Grenz quotes:

Holl (from "The Reconstruction of Moratlity")--

(p. 94) "Luther – unlike Kant, and in express opposition to Aristotle – did not think the highest goal is attained where rational deliberation makes the correct choice among various possibilities of action. Action is truly moral, truly free, only when the good has become so instinctive that the only thought that presents itself is the correct one and this is at once implemented."


Grenz (from "The Moral Quest")--

(p. 137) "The great philosophers believed that at least to some extent the human moral problem was due to ignorance; evil is an error in judgement. Consequently the antidote to evil is knowledge, for correct knowledge leads to correct action or virtuous conduct...Beneath the surface of this understanding of the ethical task is a presupposition that forms the guiding dictum of enlightened humanism in every age, namely, that if people obtain knowledge of the right they can and will do the right.

"Augustine was too heavily influenced by the Bible to adhere slavishly to this principle. He came to see that the human moral problem is not merely ignorance. We do not only lack the knowledge of what is right, we also lack the ability to do what the law commands. And as a result, we cannot do what we know we ought to do. In fact, humans can knowingly and freely choose what is evil. We have the uncanny knack of knowing what we ought to do, even anticipating the unwholesome consequences of an evil act, and yet choosing to engage in conduct we clearly perceive will be to our detriment and to the detriment of others."

--These quotes perfectly describe the lay of the land! JZ

"simul iustus et peccator"

Friday, April 28, 2006

Articles 9, 10, & 11 (of The 39 Articles):

IX. Of Original or Birth Sin. ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

X. Of Free Will. THE condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

XI. Of the Justification of Man. WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

-- Summarized as follows: