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:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Something for all of us to consider:

He appears to be fully sanctified.

JAZ's Top 50 Movie Recommendations

Top 50 Movie Recommendations (listed in no particular order)

--'The Saddest Music in the World' Canada during the Great Depression? Filmed with hand-held cameras, the lenses glossed strangely with vaseline? 90% b/w, 10% color? A comedy about the impact of guilt and sadness on the conscious mind, as experienced through music? Capra-style diologue? ...forget all that; just watch the hockey-buzzer-mediated duel between the Simese floutest and the Mexican funeral band. My girlfriend and I fell in love while watching this film. Also great with the sound off.
--'The Ruling Class - Criterion Collection' Huge movie! It asks: What would happen if you dropped Jesus Christ and Jack the Ripper into English aristocracy? Possibly the most accomplished piece of "cult cinema" ever constructed. Also, the C of E Bishop is a scream!
--'The Last Days of Disco' Don't watch this unless you can watch it more than once. Notoriously hated by non-WASPs. An exploration into the ways in which people do (and, more importantly, don't) change. Brilliant dialogue.
Waiting For Guffman 'Waiting for Guffman' My favorite movie. Snobby, but surprizingly not anti-Christian. The extra footage is a must!
--'The Cruise' My favorite documentary. Quasi-prophetic in its anticipation of 9/11. A wonderful tour of NYC, a disturbed-genius autodidact, and idol worship at its urban grandest. Apart from the world trade center stuff, the "Grid Plan" speech, and the confession on Brooklyn Bridge are amazing.
--'The Ice Storm' A strange and particular context (1970s New Canaan, CT) from which to explore the universality of human psycho-sexual tragedy, both in the adult and (as it develops) in the child. An eerily all-star cast of kid actors. This movie has a low anthropology, but gives birth to a genuinely redemptive hope, born in wake of God's wrath portrayed as an ice storm, requiring an innocent death.
--'How To Get Ahead in Advertising - Criterion Collection' Boil!
--'Stardust Memories' Favorite moive from my favorite film maker. Rampling's portrayal of insanity is really horrifying. Yet the movie is beautiful aesthetically, full of hilarious character studies, some of his funniest jokes, and a deeply serious underbelly.
--'Being There' My Grandmother is an extra in this movie; she walks by right before Peter Sellers gets hit by the car. Even if she weren't in it, I would love this film.
--'True Stories'
--'The Addiction' Probably the only vampire movie that uses blood-sucking as a metaphor for sin. Explored from the perspective of a D.Phil student of Existentialism who is bitten by a vampire in the East Village one night. Plus a soundtrack by Onyx/Cypress Hill. Features Christopher Walken. The ending is explicitly Christian, and protestant at that!
--'The American Astronaut'
--'La Dolce Vita'
--'Thief' Michael Mann's early masterpiece. He would later try to recapture its magic in Heat, almost move for move. Plus the Tuesday Weld is indeed the best part of all! Her lengthy interaction with Cann in the diner is perfect.
--'The Ninth Configuration' By the guy who wrote The Exorcist. Features a segment depicting an astronaut worshipping the crucified Jesus on the surface of the moon!
--'The Swimmer'
--'Wings of Desire'
--'The Wife' A beautifully made, scathing criticism of the New Age. Julie Hagarty is one of my favorite actresses.
--'The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T'
--'Rushmore - Criterion Collection'
--'The Brothers Quay Collection: Ten Astonishing Short Films 1984-1993'
--'Metropolitan' The best Foreign movie ever made about the American upper crust, New York's 400. "I don't think you have to have read a book in order to have an opinion on it!"
--'Jules Verne 3 Pack Collection (3pc)'
--'Flirting With Disaster (Collector's Edition)'
--'Marnie' The dated quality of 1960s Freudian psycho-analysis provides some of my favorite subject matter. The girl, Tippi, plus Hitchcock's ever present obsession with sex (e.g., horse-riding) brood eerily just under the surface of a strangley explored thesis: women need men to rescue them from themselves via Freudian psychoanalysis.
--'Little Onik'
--'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' More of the same Freudian stuff mentioned above. This movie describes the Psychiatrist to be God himself. All is revealed in a horrifying, expressionistic dream sequence depicting a therapeutic break-through.
--'Kicking and Screaming (Baumbach)'
--'Manhunter (Director's Cut, Limited Edition Set)' Tom Noonan plays the scariest serial killer in movie history! Michael Mann's direction is perfect, ever concerning itself with the inner issues of the mind and heart, plus characteristic synth-wash soundtrack and Miami Vice cameos. This is his best movie!
--'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' The educated are not necessarily friendly. The smartest man I've ever known converted after watching this movie.
--'Bad Lieutenant' Disturbing, but overtly Christian. This movie reveals the offensive side of forgiveness.
--'Hurlyburly (New Line Platinum Series)' I always wondered what uneducated (in the Classical sense) conversation among intelligent people would sound like. This movie answered that question for me. (Worth watching alongside of 'The Player' and 'The Anniversary Party'.
--'Alien - The Director's Cut (Collector's Edition)'
--'The Player (Special Edition) (New Line Platinum Series)'
--'Withnail and I - Criterion Collection' The gay uncle is hilarious!
--'Rize' - Christian "clown-dancers" fight gang violence in the LA ghetto (a documentary). You've never seen the human body move like this before!
--'Black Orpheus - Criterion Collection'
--'The King of Kings - Criterion Collection'
--'Fitzcarraldo' Famous for the on-screen deaths this movie incured. Whether or not they (the deaths) be real or rumored, this movie definitely features a ferry being hoisted over a mountain in the middle of the Amazon rain forest using weird pullies, which is a very cool thing to do in a film.
--'Palindromes' A simple story about a 12-year-old Jewish girl, but played by 10 different actresses, including a 300 pound black women, who only appears for 10 minutes in the middle.
--'After Hours'
--'Together' Covers a lot of the same ground explored in The Ice Storm, and by Todd Solendz, but in Sweden in the mid-70s. It has a contrived happy-ending, but I like the fact that it does.
--'Paris, Texas'
--'Blood and Roses' Heavily stylized version of LeFanu's "Carmilla", history's most famous story of vampire lesbians. I can't decide which of the heroines is sexier! A personal fave.
--'The Abominable Dr. Phibes' Incredible 60s aesthetic style with a weird Old Testament tale of terror incorporated nicely into the good graces of one Vincent Price. As far as I can remember, he is the only actor in the movie, other than a group of robotic New Orleans jazz musicians. This movie is cool, but not really very smart. A must!
--'Darby O'Gill and the Little People' This one features surreal, midget footage, a banshee, and fantastic Disney live-action story-telling. Works sufficiently with the sound off.
--'Tron (20th Anniversary Collector's Edition)' The left hand did not know what the right hand was doing here. This movie anticipated the future CGI animation, and is gorgeous to look at. It reflects a confused Disney at low-ebb, taking a risk.
--'Xanadu' Zeus sends one of his nine Muse daughters, ONJ, to inspire an artist to open a Roller-skate night club. Gene Kelly dances to this rediculous plot in his final, embarrasing role. Visually stunning, cinematic magic, ...of a very dumb variety. A pathetic, but honest mention.
--'Clash of the Titans' The place where Harryhausen's special effects of the 60s comes together with the unforgetable 80s, as descibed in ancient Greece. Sir Lawrence Olivier, U. Andress as Aphrodite, Harry Hamlin from LA Law, all together finally!
--'The Big Blue (Director's Cut)' Hard to defend, though it's unlike any other movie. Rosanne Arquette is another fave!
--'Britannia Hospital' This is the only movie on this list that I have never watched. It's supposed to be really good.
--'The Boy in the Plastic Bubble' Perfect as existential metaphor.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

1 Corinthians 1, regarding differences between the UK and the US (excerpt taken from "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life", by Brewster & Broughton, 1999.)

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Corinthians 1: 26-27)

Photo: Northern Soul Dancers

"In less than a quarter of a century, the idea of dancing to someone playing records had evolved from a bizarre experiment in a Yorkshire working men's club to an intricate world of nightclubs, DJs, and music.

"This world had matured more rapidly in the UK than the US -- maybe because Britain seems to invest far more energy in its youth culture, which is somehow more accepting of outside novelties and is usually energetically downmarket in its social make-up. While the cafe society were twisting in New York's Peppermint Lounge, the kids doing the same dance in the Lyceum were clerks, apprentices and shop girls. Perhaps it's because Britain is a nation based on duty, a country of subjects not citizens, that its young people expend so much effort in trying to escape, but it's herethat club culture was built, even if the records which filled it were from across the Atlantic. As the pages turn on the DJ's story, you'll see that Britain made him a home, while America gave him his music.

"The connections between the two countries have always been strong, and one theme has a particular resonance -- the passionate romance between white working-class kids in the UK and black music made in America. Perhaps the connection is work, perhaps it's the refusal to defer pleasure. If you were black and American you sang about pay day, you waited for the eagle on your dollar to fly. If you were British and working class, you just said Ready Steady Go, the weekend starts here." (p. 79)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Imagination and the Prayer of Humble Access

I know the album cover is (a bit) silly, but the second song on this LP (So Good, So Right, sampled by Eric Sermon's "Get the Money") has me hooked. The title track opener is amazing as well. Think of the incredible soaring male falsettos of the Delphonics coupled with Larry Levan style, 80s disco production. And check out their second single from In the Heat of the Night, their second album, the song "Just An Illusion". Find the extended 12" mix if possible. Folks, we're dealing with a really really really great song here (dare I say perfect?)!

Also, here's the BCP's Prayer of Humble Access (We used to tell my brother Simeon that he was not "good enough" to get to say this prayer)...

"We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."

I don't know what's better, the song Just An Illusion, or the prayer. --JZ

Thursday, April 20, 2006

David Zahl is 27 today!!!

It's that two-month-long time of year when David and I are only one year apart. Here's to you (and Cate) on this special day, also Hitler's birthday.

Love, JAZ

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Christ Among the Partisans (By GARRY WILLS)

THERE is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the occupying power but said only, "Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him" (Matthew 22:21). He was the original proponent of a separation of church and state.

Those who want the state to engage in public worship, or even to have prayer in schools, are defying his injunction: "When you pray, be not like the pretenders, who prefer to pray in the synagogues and in the public square, in the sight of others. In truth I tell you, that is all the profit they will have. But you, when you pray, go into your inner chamber and, locking the door, pray there in hiding to your Father, and your Father who sees you in hiding will reward you" (Matthew 6:5-6). He shocked people by his repeated violation of the external holiness code of his time, emphasizing that his religion was an internal matter of the heart.

But doesn't Jesus say to care for the poor? Repeatedly and insistently, but what he says goes far beyond politics and is of a different order. He declares that only one test will determine who will come into his reign: whether one has treated the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the imprisoned as one would Jesus himself. "Whenever you did these things to the lowliest of my brothers, you were doing it to me" (Matthew 25:40). No government can propose that as its program. Theocracy itself never went so far, nor could it.

The state cannot indulge in self-sacrifice. If it is to treat the poor well, it must do so on grounds of justice, appealing to arguments that will convince people who are not followers of Jesus or of any other religion. The norms of justice will fall short of the demands of love that Jesus imposes. A Christian may adopt just political measures from his or her own motive of love, but that is not the argument that will define justice for state purposes.

To claim that the state's burden of justice, which falls short of the supreme test Jesus imposes, is actually what he wills — that would be to substitute some lesser and false religion for what Jesus brought from the Father. Of course, Christians who do not meet the lower standard of state justice to the poor will, a fortiori, fail to pass the higher test.

The Romans did not believe Jesus when he said he had no political ambitions. That is why the soldiers mocked him as a failed king, giving him a robe and scepter and bowing in fake obedience (John 19:1-3). Those who today say that they are creating or following a "Christian politics" continue the work of those soldiers, disregarding the words of Jesus that his reign is not of this order.

Some people want to display and honor the Ten Commandments as a political commitment enjoined by the religion of Jesus. That very act is a violation of the First and Second Commandments. By erecting a false religion — imposing a reign of Jesus in this order — they are worshiping a false god. They commit idolatry. They also take the Lord's name in vain.

Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we took up the slogan "What would Jesus do?"

That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call him "Satan." He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts.

The Jesus of the Gospels is not a great ethical teacher like Socrates, our leading humanitarian. He is an apocalyptic figure who steps outside the boundaries of normal morality to signal that the Father's judgment is breaking into history. His miracles were not acts of charity but eschatological signs — accepting the unclean, promising heavenly rewards, making last things first.

He is more a higher Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, than a higher Socrates. No politician is going to tell the lustful that they must pluck out their right eye. We cannot do what Jesus would do because we are not divine.

It was blasphemous to say, as the deputy under secretary of defense, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, repeatedly did, that God made George Bush president in 2000, when a majority of Americans did not vote for him. It would not remove the blasphemy for Democrats to imply that God wants Bush not to be president. Jesus should not be recruited as a campaign aide. To trivialize the mystery of Jesus is not to serve the Gospels.

The Gospels are scary, dark and demanding. It is not surprising that people want to tame them, dilute them, make them into generic encouragements to be loving and peaceful and fair. If that is all they are, then we may as well make Socrates our redeemer.

It is true that the tamed Gospels can be put to humanitarian purposes, and religious institutions have long done this, in defiance of what Jesus said in the Gospels.

Jesus was the victim of every institutional authority in his life and death. He said: "Do not be called Rabbi, since you have only one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, the one in heaven. And do not be called leaders, since you have only one leader, the Messiah" (Matthew 23:8-10).

If Democrats want to fight Republicans for the support of an institutional Jesus, they will have to give up the person who said those words. They will have to turn away from what Flannery O'Connor described as "the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus" and "a wild ragged figure" who flits "from tree to tree in the back" of the mind.

He was never that thing that all politicians wish to be esteemed — respectable. At various times in the Gospels, Jesus is called a devil, the devil's agent, irreligious, unclean, a mocker of Jewish law, a drunkard, a glutton, a promoter of immorality.

The institutional Jesus of the Republicans has no similarity to the Gospel figure. Neither will any institutional Jesus of the Democrats.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bored at home?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Excerpt from a recent sermon by PZ:

"This is really the point of my sermon:

We talk about forgiveness, and, golly, haven't you heard a zillion trillion sermons about forgiveness of sinners, ...but it never actually happens.

When lightning actually strikes and sin actually rears its powerful head in the world, Christians, generally speaking, shut down, and they shut the door, and they are very merciless, and unforgiving. It's just an absolute habit.

This is why lapsed Roman Catholics and lapsed evangelicals predominate in NYC. Most NYC young people have come from environments where all they heard when sin came into the door was some form of accusation and judgement from what they interpretted as the Christian community. So they, in turn, say 'sianara'.

Do we actually believe a word of what we so stentoriously and with such bravado speak about all the time? Do we actually believe it for a sec?

Well, I'm very sceptical."

p.s., If you want me to email you a full mp3 copy of this sermon, just leave your email address in the comments section, which I'll delete after I've sent it your way. --JZ

Daniele Baldelli

Read this:

Daniele Baldelli interview

I'd love to hear one of those mix tapes!!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bonhoeffer quotes:

(taken from Ethics) --

“In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success.”

"One is distressed by the failure of reasonable people to perceive either the depths of evil or the depths of the holy. With the best of intentions they believe that a little reason will suffice them to clamp together the parting timbers of the building."

“It is only through God’s being made man that it is possible to know real men and not despise them."

“Justification by grace and faith alone remains in every respect the final word and for this reason, when we speak of the things before the last, we must not speak of them as having any value of their own, but we must bring to light their relation to the ultimate.”

“What is the penultimate? It is everything that precedes the ultimate, everything that precedes the justification of the sinner by grace alone, everything which is to be regarded as leading up to the last thing when the last thing has been found. It is at the same time everything which follows the ultimate and yet again precedes it. There is, therefore, no penultimate in itself; as though a thing could justify itself in itself as being a thing before the last thing; a thing becomes penultimate only through the ultimate, that is to say, at the moment when it has already lost its own validity. The penultimate, then, does not determine the ultimate: it is the ultimate which determines the penultimate.”