Saturday, October 14, 2006
Please Come To Boston For The Links
I'm off to Boston in a few hours to be "guest blogger" at this event thanks to the kind invitation of my host Joe Carter. Lots of connectivity - posting should be unaffected.
It might not have worked, but it was a nuke.
Try this in America! Sometimes, our mere 200 years of history seems measly.
There's a gay joke in here somewhere.
How come Bruce Lee never filmed this? But I'm betting Jackie Chan will.
As the scientists approached it beamed an intense radio signal to Jupiter. HAL was heard to say "Dave, is that you Dave?"
I wanna play! And unlike almost the entire rest of civilization, I've been to Gerlach, NV and know where it is. (Gold mine consulting thing...)
OK, I don't get it. Although, given the opportunity to mark my territory, I'd have shot a little broader.
I've been to China and observed first hand Chinese sanitation. I find this story completely unbelievable.
Related Tags: HERO, Boston, FRC, Liberty Sunday, NoKo Nuke, joke, humor, wisecrack
Then there is the whole question of the physics of flying and the physiology of making them work. How can he have the muscles to operate them and still have
otherwise normal ankles? And how, oh how, are they anything approaching aerodynamic?
OK, enough with that rant - it's not like comics are supposed to be real or anything, but even as a child Namor bothered me on this account.
The most remarkable aspect of the character has always been his attitude - he has always been just a little too cool for the room. Some of it is his nature, and some of it is the fact that in his world, he is a king - he forgets that in the "surface world" they don't care much. I have always found that very unappealing, but having said that, I find it fascinating the DC's undersea character (Aquaman) has moved his character in that same direction over the years. Which must mean I am weird in my distaste for the character.
That said, I much prefer the appearance of the Namor character to Aquaman, he just looks cool, in the greek mythology sort of way. I also think he was the perfenct "Defender" - one must remember that the concept behind the Defenders was a team of people that had no business being on a team. Namor is that is spades - he ticks off people that love him, let alone those he just has to work with! I have always loved the fact that he was harder to deal with than The Hulk. That's amazing if you really know these characters.
It looks like there is going to be a Namor movie. That's gonna be fascinating. I have to think they will soften him up, or they will play his love triangle with Susan Richards of the FF, but then it would be more a FF sequel than a Namor picture. Anyway, should be fun.
Related Tags: comics, comic books, comic art, Namor, The Defenders
Friday, October 13, 2006
The Difference Between Evidence and Proof
The book begins with Stroebel interviewing Jonathon Wells, author of Icons of Evolution, which looks at the false or misleading nature of many of the more common evidences of evolutionary theory.
As I read through the interview, I was struck by the fact that I must be a bit strange. Stroebel talks in that breathless, irritating manner about each of these "icons" (the amino acid generating experiment of the 60's, Darwin's "Tree of Life" diagram, etc...) and how they lead him astray into the widerness of atheism, and how he shuddered as each was revealed as wrong in some fashion.
I was exposed to all the things Stroebel was and I never felt compelled to discard my infant faith and wander the wilderness. Why not? Maybe it's because I was fathered and raised by a lawyer, maybe its because I was born a scientist (I started trying to figure out how things work, usually by taking them apart, from the earliest possible age) maybe I was just too indoctrinated by my faith already, but I understood at those most tender ages that those evidences of evolution were insufficient to constitute proof of evolution. Evolution was and remains, a hypothesis, perhaps a theory, but it has never risen to the level of fact by any standard of proof one might select.
Nope reading this book has taught me something I also learned when I was on jury duty. More often than not, people decide a propositon and then look for evidence of it, rather than decide based on the evidence. This means most people collect evidence, but they never actually formulate that evidence into a cohesive arguement or proof, they just create an evidence pile until they feel the pile reaches some critical mass that constitutes "proof."
I find this fact most instructive when it comes to evangelism. How do we "argue" for Jesus? I have never been convinced that we do. Apologetics, "pre-evangelism" is evidence in the pile, but only a select few people will ever really be influenced by it. They will either put it in the pile that says "I am a Christian, here's why" or they will find the faults in the arguement (and all apologetic arguments have them) and put it in the pile "Why I am not a Christian."
Sometimes I think apologetics cedes too much of the naturalism/supernaturalism debate by definition. When we attempt to help someone develop faith on a purely natural level, which apologetics does, we discount the supernatural, and I think genuine faith in Christ is a truly supernatural occurence. Anything less is mere intellectual ascent.
We want to be naturalists because we can manipulate nature. We want to be naturalists because it allows us to maintain control. And yet, the essence of the Christian experience is the sacrifice of control to the Almighty. It is beyond nature and it is not subject to our understanding or manipulation.
In the end, there is the evidence for Christianity does not rise to the level of proof - but there is proof. We are the proof. That is to say we are, if we allow the supernatural God to work in us and change us and make us as He intended.
Related Tags: naturalism, apologetics, evidence, proof, faith, transformation
I think... better Christians will make more Christians.
Nothing my mother did ever worked with me. The regulation of bovine farting (It's a reality here in sourtheern Califronia) has to be among the more ridiculous environmental efforts I have ever encountered. Next stop, CO2 emissions from breathing. Besides, think about the birds that happen upon this.
So, build a reservoir.
Nice idea, but science does not need redemption, just those silly scientists that think it excludes God somehow.
Nice post, but rendered most exciting because it is about events that happen near Oxford Mississippi. Oxford, home of William Faulkner, college playground of Archie Manning, and birthplace of
Look, headline typo!
I think a tip is in order for this babysitter.
And still, Pong is boring.
Now, if I can only get this to happen in my bank account.
This lead me to the below, and it's way cool
I think they should get a medal for collecting it. That's not easy.
Related Tags: knowledge, evangelism, cow farts, science, Oxford Mississippi, joke, humor, wisecrack
"Hungry, Seymour?" the Lord asked.
"I could eat," said Seymour.
The Lord opened a can of tuna, and they shared it.
While eating this humble meal, Seymour looked down into Hell and noticed the inhabitants devouring enormous steaks, pheasant, pastries, and vodka.
The next day, the Lord again asked Seymour if he were hungry, and Seymour again said, "I could eat."
Once again, a can of tuna was opened and shared, while down below Seymour noticed a feast of caviar, champagne, lamb, truffles, brandy, and chocolates.
The following day, mealtime arrived and another can of tuna was opened.
Meekly, Seymour said, "Lord, I am very happy to be in heaven as a reward for the good life I lived. But, this is heaven, and all I get to eat is tuna. But in the Other Place, they eat like Kings. I just don't understand."
"To be honest, Seymour," the Lord said, "for just two people, does it pay to cook?"
Related Tags: Friday humor, heaven, hell, cooking
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Leaders, Disciplers And Media Stars
Can I be honest? - this is the one thing that has always bothered me about the concept of discipleship. The people into whose hands I am supposed to place my trust and to whom I am supposed to submit, are often no more mature than I am, at least in some areas of their lives. In my youth, I discovered several to whom I attached myself that were really only interested in using me to advance their own agendas - they were not interested in actually bringing about my maturity, they just needed me to massage their egos and supply a bit of free labor. It was a long jouney to figure out that such was not what Christ intended.
Genuine one-to-one discipleship is becoming increasingly rare these days. It's being overridden by a sort of celebrity discipleship. As Christian leaders fire up the media frenzy to sell the latest book and populate the latest conferences, people "attach" themselves to these people, collecting their books, attending all the conferences, adsorbing everything such a person says like a sponge. But there is a problem with this. The media savvy learn how to play this game without ever revealing their true humanity, even their ugliness. You end up discipling yourself to someone you have never met and someone that creates a false image of what a Christian really is.
I come back again and again to the fact that genuine faith and maturity comes not from being good, but from realizing and confessing that we are not so. If the person to whom you submit yourself is willing to hear you say where they have a problem, and confess to you, as you to them, that they were wrong, now we can together find real maturity, and real community. The most valuable lesson learned from the fallable discipler is exactly that - how to confess, how to be humble.
Now, I do want to draw a distinction between the media star and the leader. Organizations demand people in front - those are leaders, but good ones do it in a way they they avoid the media star syndrome. They let you know it's a job, not a honor. They urge you to attach yourself not to them, but to someone near and dear and real. Most importantly they are willing to be falliable from the front, instead of working so hard to "preserve the image."
Being a Christian is a messy business, and it is a business done with others. We cannot be perfect in that and we cannot hide behind an image if we want to do it well. I think we need to spend time being deliberate about that. I like to read the books of John Piper, but I am not and cannot be his disciple - he's in Minnesota and I am in California - and for all I know he could be a jerk.
When I read so much about the latest and greatest from Leader X, I always end up thinking how much we sound like the Corinthians.
1 Cor 1:12 - Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."We are all of each other. Discipleship is something we submit to not with the stars, but with the ordinary, because in the end the stars are the ordinary.
Related Tags: celebrity, leadership, discipleship
Truth, Justice, And The American Link
BITE ME Michael Schiavo. Speaking of politics and/or philosophy trumping reasoned science.
Captain Ed looks at the lack of refining capacity in this country, and its consequences. This, dear friends is what "concern for the environment" has wrought - it's just not smart. While less serious, this example of same lifts the OH, PLEEZE bar a notch or two.
Meanwhile, the efforts to use the environment as the issue to push the religious to the left continues. -- While environmentalists are calling for "Nuremburg Trials" for global warming skeptics. (Reported here as well) Yep, the churches will line right up for that one.
Let's see, they took hazardous waste that needed to be disposed of and burned it. That's a good thing. But they did it without government permission, so they get one of the largest penalites in history. That's
This can't be - it has to be something some evil human has done. Wait, it was! - we all ran quickly to one side of the planet and created the wobble. I forgot.
In that same vein, this is undoubtedly a result of our greenhouse gas emissions.
I see the dichotomy, but I don't understand it. The larger context comes via the community of the saved. It's a both/and, not an either/or. Speaking of Glenn Lucke - he's popping up everywhere.
Courtesy RCP Blog - prepare to be deeply moved.
A shirt I'll never own - I do my own laundry.
This'll make sombody's day.
Headline Writer Seeking Work.
Sadly, I don't think the Cybermen stand a chance.
Related Tags: the state of the church, christian envrionmentalism, global warming, personal salvation, joke, humor, wisecrack
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Men Comprise History, Not Ideas
As I listened to the interview, the book is in the "to be read" pile, I was struck by how much history is written by men, not ideas. The story of Al Queda is the story of a few men doing stuff. It's not the story of Wahabism, though that contributes, it's not even the story of hatred towards America. It's the story of a few guys that hate America and have some ideas.
Men have ideas, men promote ideas, but it is the men that make the history. Let me rephrase it this way - no idea ever "changed the world" save that people adopted and promoted it. It's true with good ideas, say constitutional democracy, and bad ideas, say Nazism. No idea, no matter how good it is, has caused change on its own. No idea, no matter how good, has travelled the globe and revolutionized people's thinking, save that other people promoted it.
Obvious notion when you think about, but sometimes the deepest stuff lies in coming to terms with the obvious. If people make history, is it not therefore infinitely wise that God chose to change history's course as a man? Furthermore, isn't it then obvious that any changes God choses to wrought in the future, He will do through the use of men?
What Jesus said matters, but not as much as you may want to think. But He did not say anything that a good, open-eyed reading of the Old Testament won't reveal. Jesus mattered. The ideas of the Reformation were important, but they were not what really changed hsitory - it was Luther, and Calvin, and Knox, and.... Those same ideas in the hands of lesser individuals would have accomplished naught.
One of the ways we tend to dodge the transformation that God wants to manifest in our lives is by spending all our time with ideas. We think the ideas matter, but they don't - we matter. Despite my love of Calvinism, I'll take a Christ-like Arminian over a jerk Calvinist any day of the week. I also think that Arminian will do more to spread the love of Christ and to change the world than the jerk Calvinist can ever dream about.
We also need to remember that our goal here is not to spread "the gospel story" - our goal is to spread Jesus and to allow Jesus to change the lives of those to whom we offer Him.
The gospel is not an idea, its not a story, its a person.
Related Tags: history, ideas, man, woman, person, Jesus, gospel, Christ, Christianity
It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A Link
Pure fear-mongering and bureacracy construction. It's not the "chemical," (I would remind you water is a chemical) it never is, it's how it's used and handled.
The harnessing of firem along with the whell marks the beginning of civilization, but if you are a global warming activist, if it burns it's bad, without respect to how much or under what conditions.
Speaking of global warming, I thought we understood all of this already. There can be no new studies!
Also on global warming, read this and the link therein carefully. When you understand it, you will have achieved global warming understanding grasshopper.
Reading crap like this and this is enough to make me gain my weight back just to defy this jerks! Sex with the same gender, that's being judgemental, but being fat - now that's a moral dilemma. God help us all.
In the words of Laura Ingraham - SHUT UP AND SING - just not in my presence, I don't particularly care for her music.
The perfect Christimas gift. (HT: Holy Coast and The Corner) I'll let you decide who for...
I quit in college and learned to print fast when taking notes - I could't read it.
It made me chuckle.
Insert your own joke about what American politicians will not be allowed to visit here.
There are some that say this is how my wife found me.
Related Tags: Bible resources, global warming, beauty, fat, joke, humor, wisecrack
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Church and Trends
My friend's comment got me thinking because over the years I have seen the church get excited about "small groups", or about being "seeker sensitive," or "Vineyard worship music" and other various bandwagons the church jumps on for a season. And there have been many other trends that I wasn?t a part of like cell churches, or using the baseball diamond for assimilation, or the breakouts of laughing in the Spirit by certain types of churches, or radio preaching, or whatever it may be. Whatever the trend the routine is the same. First there is excitement, then early innovators adopt them (maybe not the laughing in the Spirit), then in time most churches may do it. But eventually, it passes and we wait for the next ?new? thing.The whole idea of "trends" in institutions definitionally devoted to the eternal and unchangable causes cognitive dissonance in me. Somehow when we chase the current, when we evaluate the fad, we lessen God. I mean to think a God about whom it has been said
Heb 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.is worried about a "trend?" Somehow I think what is important today to such a God was important yesterday and will be important tomorrow.
Rev 1:8 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
I also wonder if when we present such a God we are not supposed to cater the message and the medium to Him, as opposed to the other way around. As far as I know, 2 + 2 = 4 just like it always has and despite "new math" and all the other "innovations" in teaching, people still need to come to terms with that fact of addition written in that way. If a simple arithmetical statement is routinely acknowledged as so static, how can we treat the unchangeable Creator of all in a lesser light?
Somehow, I cannot help but be struck by the fact that if the church spent less time worrying about trends and more time dealing with God, we'd all be much better off.
Cross-posted at How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church
Related Tags: trend, church, Christianity, unchageable, God, Christ
Faster Than A Speeding Link
This is silly - roadways, particularly when built with sounds barriers, etc, will concentrate pollutants. Anybody who walks done the street knows automotive emissions are annoying right there on the curb - what matters is 20 feet up.
I'm not sure laughter is the intended response here, but it is the result.
Time Waster I
Time Waster II
Finally a reason to go to the Tate - the "art" just wasn't cutting it for me.
A superhero is born. Although using the whole lighting-out-the-anus power could get embarassing.
Well, for God's sake, if we must work with them, at least get them some clothes.
Effects DO NOT = reality, they simply mean there is a phenomena to explain. When you capture one of those "particles," then we'll talk. Separating the science and the belief is pretty difficult in quantum world.
How can you tell when you've lost your calling? When you measure it by money.
And then was left in a room-with-a-room, very alone for at least 48 hours.
Related Tags: ecology, resources, air pollution, quantum mechanics, games, superhero, joke, humor, wsiecrack
Monday, October 09, 2006
Does A Pastor Owe The Congregation A "Complete" Sermon?
Let me give you an example. Say you want to preach on evangelism and you want to make the point that everyone in the congregation bears some of that responsibility. To emphasize your point you may make a statement like "The church's number one priority is evangelism." Now, in the context of that sermon, that statement is not completely out of hand. However, the statement is objectionable on a number of levels. For instance, the church's number one priority, theologically speaking, is to glorify God - evangelism is but one aspect of that, as is feeding the widows and poor, and building maturity within the congregation.
The problem is that someone in the congregation is going to latch onto that statement out of its context and try to push all but evangelism out of the way when it comes to church resources and priorities. Worse, everythng the church does will, in some fashion, be "turned into" evangelism so it can lay claim to resources. Thus you will find things like "aerobics outreach" so the aerobics instructor in the congregation can legitimize using church facilities to teach a class.
I think this phenomena creates a big problem for preachers. Obviously, every sermon cannot be a complete statement of everything the church thinks or believes. But that said, is it really that difficult not to leave those open doors strewn along the path of a sermon? Often just parsing the sentence differently, or adding but a single phrase or sentence can make all the difference.
I have been told by more than one preacher as I approached them about this that I listen too hard and analyze too much - that no one else finds those open doors that I do, so its not a problem. I don't think so. The sermon is powerful and its affects, though often indirect, can be massive, even in the single phrase or inflection. True, not everyone analyzes on this level, but some do, and most importantly congregational leaders do.
I have seen these open doors have devestating effects on congregations as everyone rushes through them to some unsavory destination. I do think a pastor has an obligation to read his sermons not only for the points he desires to make, but also for the points he makes inadvertantly. The sermon, while not taking in the whole of what a church thinks or believes, should be wholly consistent with that greater reality.
Anything less is the devil's playground.
Related Tags: sermons, church, politics, preachers, pastors
In It's Guise As Mild-Mannered Links
Yeah, but by blocking the sun, shouldn't it help with global warming? I mean that is the greatest scourge to face mankind ever isn't it? Wait, what am I saying - it is a scourge of solar system proportions.
This is amazing (HT: Greenie Watch)
Whoever thought that serious commentators would want it made illegal to have a row about the weather? One Australian columnist has proposed outlawing ?climate change denial?. ?David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial?, she wrote. ?Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all.? Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the "global warming" Holocaust?.Do these people even come close to understanding will happen to the quality of life on this planet, the subsequent increase in suffering, and the resultant loss of human life that would result from adopting all their greenie proposals? Which is the real crime against humanity?
Meanwhile, on the indoor air front - I guess we have to change centuries of relgious practice because after all, the art in those churches is more meaningful than that which it celebrates.
Out-of-context, maybe, but wise, very wise.
Anecdotal evidence of the problems with social welfare. Please take note Jim Wallis, et. al.
Just because I like linking to people quoting Plantinga.
I'm no fan of contemporary worship music, but this is kinda funny. I have this image of highland warriors in my mind....
Scary cars? Well, in the case of the "Thing" and Aztec, I have to agree.
Why not just use the twist top?
And you thought farts were useless.
Related Tags: Nort Korea nuke, environment, global warming, air quality, freedom of speech, worship music, Plantinga, joke, humor, wisecrack
Sunday, October 08, 2006
For Link's Sake
The half-hour service focuses on the special relationships people have with their animals, says Rev. Mark Lingle.Shouldn't the church be supplying the relational support in such circumstances?
"At our church there are a number of people who are single or who have lost a loved one, and their pet is one of their primary relationships," he said.
There is a difference between religious neutrality and religious oppression.
Could things get worse than they did with Terri Schiavo? - yeah, a lot worse.
Germon lawyers are actually worse than American lawyers. Although someone here will follow suit very quickly, I have no doubt.
Yep - that's me! there on the right - at least according to this. Find your type here. (HT: Kruse Kronicle)
Maybe not the dumbest human that has ever lived, but certainly in contention.
Too many wisecrack possibilities to actually settle on just one. I do think the guy needs a date.
This is good - it's not so easy to find 19" British bayonets these days - now I know just where to shop.
Whatta ya know? - that knife cuts both ways.
You know, it might be simpler than they think.
Related Tags: church failure, Terri Schiavo, PVS, religious oppression, lawyers, Star Trek, joke, humor, wisecrack
Sermons and Lessons
SAINT AUGUSTINE (Aurelius Augustinus), one of the greatest theological fathers of the Church, was born at Tagaste, 354 A.D., and became devoted to the study of Cicero. As a Manichean he occasioned great anxiety to his mother Monica. Eventually embracing Christianity, he was baptized by Ambrose of Milan (387), on which occasion, tradition says, the Te Deum was composed by himself and his baptizer. Appointed to the See of Hippo in 395, he threw himself into the conflict against heresy and schism, his principal opponents being the Donatists and Pelagians. His sermons, powerful as they are, disappoint the modern reader by their fantastic and allegorical interpretation of Scripture, but his "Confessions," in which he details the history of his early life and conversion, present a wonderful picture of personal experience. He is styled by Harnack "the first modern man." He died at Hippo in 430.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord, thou Son of David - Matt. 20:30.
I. Ye know, holy brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the physician of our eternal health; and that to this end we task the weak¬ness of our natures, that our weakness might not last forever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And, "though He was crucified through weakness," as the apostle saith, yet lie "liveth by the power of God." They are the words, too, of the same apostle: "He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him." These things, I say, are well known to your faith. And there is also this which follows from them, that we should know that all the miracles which lie did on the body avail to our instruction, that we may from them perceive that which is not to pass away, nor to have any end. He restored to the blind those eyes which death was sure some time to close; He raised Lazarus to life who was to die again. And whatever He did for the health of bodies, He did it not to this end that they should be forever; whereas, at the last, He will give eternal health even to the body itself. But because those things which were not seen were not believed; by means of those temporal things which were seen, He built up faith in those things which were not seen.
II. Let no one then, brethren, say that our Lord Jesus Christ doeth not those things now, and on this account prefer the former to the present ages of the Church. In a certain place, indeed, the same Lord prefers those who do not see and yet believe to them who see and therefore believe. For even at that time so irresolute was the infirmity of His disciples that they thought that He whom they saw to have risen again must be handled, in order that they might believe. It was not enough for their eyes that they had seen Him, unless their hands also were applied to His limbs, and the scars of His recent wounds were touched: that this disciple, who was in doubt, might cry suddenly when he had touched and recognized the scars, "My Lord and my God." The scars manifested Him who had healed all wounds in others. Could not the Lord have risen again without scars? Yes, but He knew the wounds which were in the hearts of His disciples, and to heal them He had preserved the scars on His own body. And what said the Lord to him who now confest and said, "My lord, and my God?" "Because thou hast seen," He said, "thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." Of whom spake He, brethren, but of us? Not that He spoke only of us, but of those also who shall come after us. For a little while when He had departed from the sight of men, that faith might be established in their hearts, whosoever believed, believed tho they saw Him not, and great has been the merit of their faith; for the procuring of which faith they brought only the movement of a pious heart, and not the touching of their hands.
III. These things, then, the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole world. And now, He worketh greater cures, on account of which He disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they believe who did not believe, and they live well who did live evilly, and they obey who did not obey; and we say, "such a man is become a believer," and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as hardened. Why, then, dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is living innocently, and serving God, but because thou dost behold him seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living whom thou hast known to be dead; dost behold him hearing whom thou hadst known to be deaf? For consider that there are those who are dead in another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spoke to a certain man who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father; "Let the dead," said He, "bury their dead." Surely these dead buriers are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead bodies. Yet doth He call them dead; where but in the soul within? For as we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul within; and these the apostle arouses thus, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is the same who giveth sight to the blind that awakeneth the dead. For it is with His voice that the cry is made by the apostle to the dead. "Awake thou that sleepest." And the blind will be enlightened with light, when he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before His eyes, when He said, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." For who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears, then, did He seek for, but those of the inner man?
IV. Again, what eyes did He look for when He spake to those who saw indeed, but who saw only with the eyes of the flesh? For when Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us": he understood, indeed, that if the Father were shown him, it might well suffice him; when He that was equal to the Father had sufficed not? And why did He not suffice? Because He was not seen. And why was He not seen? Because the eye whereby He might be seen was not yet whole. For this, namely, that the Lord was seen in the flesh with the outward eyes, not only the disciples who honored Him saw, but also the Jews who crucified Him. He, then, who wished to be seen in another way, sought for other eyes. And, therefore, it was that to him who said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," He answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father also." And that He might in the meanwhile heal the eyes of faith, He has first of all given him instructions regarding faith, that so he might attain to sight. And lest Philip should think that he was to conceive of God under the same form in which he then saw the Lord Jesus Christ in the body, he immediately subjoined, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" He had already said, "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father also." But Philip's eye was not yet sound enough to see the Father, nor, consequently, to see the Son, who is Himself coequal with the Father. And so Jesus Christ took in hand to cure, and with the medicine and salve of faith to strengthen the eyes of his mind, which as yet were, weak and unable to behold so great a light, and He said, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" Let not him, then, who can not yet see what the Lord will one day show him, seek first to see what he is to believe; but let him first believe that the eye by which he is to see may be healed. For it was only the form of the servant which was exhibited to the eyes of servants; because if "He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God" could have been now seen as equal with God by those whom He wished to be healed, He would not have needed to empty Himself and to take the form of a servant. But because there was no way whereby God could be seen, but whereby man could be seen there was; therefore, He who was God was made man, that that which was seen might heal that whereby He was not seen. For He saith Himself in another place, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Philip might, of course, have answered and said, Lord, do I see Thee? Is the Father such as I see Thee to be? Forasmuch as Thou hast said, "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father also?" But before Philip answered thus, or perhaps before he so much as thought it, when the Lord had said, "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father also," He immediately added, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" For with that eye he could not yet see either the Father, or the Son who is equal with the Father; but that his eye might be healed for seeing, he was anointed unto believing. So, then, before thou seest what thou canst not now see, believe what as yet thou seest not. "Walk by faith," that thou mayest attain to sight. Sight will not gladden him in his home whom faith consoleth not by the way. For, so says the apostle, "As long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord." And he subjoins immediately why we are still "absent or in pilgrimage," tho we have now believed; "For we walk by faith," he says; "not by sight."
V. Our whole business, then, brethren, in this life is to heal this eye of the heart whereby God may be seen. To this end are celebrated the Holy Mysteries; to this end is preached the Word of God; to this end are the moral exhortations of the Church, those, that is, that relate to the corrections of manners, to the amendment of carnal lusts, to the renouncing the world, not in word only, but in a change of life: to this end is directed the whole aim of the Divine and Holy Scriptures, that that inner man may be purged of that which hinders us from the sight of God. For as the eye which is formed to see this temporal light, a light tho heavenly yet corporeal, and manifest, not to men only, but even to the meanest animals (for this the eye is formed to this light) ; if anything be thrown or falls into it, whereby it is disordered, is shut out from this light; and tho it encompasses the eye with its presence, yet the eye turns itself away from, and is absent from it; and tho its disordered condition is not only rendered absent from the light which is present, but the light to see which it was formed is even painful to it, so the eye of the heart too, when it is disordered and wounded, turns away from the light of righteousness, and dares not and can not contemplate it.
VI. And what is it that disorders the eye of the heart? Evil desire, covetousness, injustice, worldly concupiscence; these disorder, close, blind the eye of the heart. And yet, when the eye of the body is out of order, how is the physician sought out, what an absence of all delay to open and cleanse it, that they may be healed whereby this outward light is seen! There is running to and fro, no one is still, no one loiters, if even the smallest straw fall into the eye. And God, it must be allowed, made the sun which we desire to see with sound eyes. Much brighter, assuredly, is He who made it; nor is the light with which the eye of the mind is concerned of this kind at all. That light is eternal wisdom. God made thee, 0 man, after His own image. Would He give thee wherewithal to see the sun which He made, and not give thee wherewithal to see Him who made thee, when He made thee after His own image? He hath given thee this also; both hath He given thee. But much thou dost love these outward eyes, and despisest much that interior eye; it thou dost carry about bruised and wounded. Yea, it would be a punishment to, if thy Maker should wish to manifest Himself unto thee, it would be a punishment to thine eye, before that it is cured and healed. For so Adam in Paradise sinned, and hid himself from the face of God. As long, then, as he had the sound heart of a pure conscience, he rejoiced at the presence of God; when that eye was wounded by sin, he began to dread the divine light, he fled back into the darkness, and the thick covert of trees, flying from the truth, and anxious for the shade.
VII. Therefore, my brethren, since we too are born of him, and as the apostle says, "In Adam all die"; for we were all at first two persons; if we were loath to obey the physician, that we might not be sick; let us obey Him now, that we may be delivered from sickness. The Physician gave us precepts, when we were whole; He gave us precepts that we might not need a physician. "They that are whole," He saith, "need not a physician, but they that are sick." When whole, we despised these precepts, and by experience have felt how to our own destruction we despised His precepts. Now we are sick, we are in distress, we are on the bed of weakness; yet let us not despair. For because we could not come to the Physician, He hath vouchsafed to come Himself to us. Tho despised by man when he was whole, He did not despise him when he was stricken. He did not leave off to give other precepts to the weak, who would not keep the first precepts, that he might not be weak; as tho He would say, "Assuredly thou hast by experience felt that I spoke the truth when I said, Touch not this. Be healed then now, at length, and recover the life thou hast lost. Lo, I am bearing thine infirmity; drink then the bitter cup. For thou hast of thine own self made those my so sweet precepts, which were given to thee when whole, so toilsome. They were despised, and so thy distress began; cured thou canst not be, except thou drink the bitter cup, the cup of temptations, wherein this life abounds, the cup of tribulation, anguish, and suffering. Drink then," He says, "drink, that thou mayest live." And that the sick man may not make answer, "I can not, I can not bear it, I will not drink"; the Physician, all whole tho He be, drinketh first, that the sick man may not hesitate to drink. For what bitterness is there in this cup which He hath not drunk? If it be contumely, He heard it first when He drove out the devils. "He hath a devil, and by Beelzebub He casteth out devils." Whereupon, in order to comfort the sick, He saith, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?" If pains are this bitter cup, He was bound, and scourged, and crucified. If death be this bitter cup, He died also. If infirmity shrink with horror from any particular kind of death, none was at that time more ignominious than the death of the cross. For it was not in vain that the apostle, when setting forth His obedience, added, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
VIII. But because He designed to honor His faithful ones at the end of the world, He hath first honored the cross in this world; in such wise that the princes of the earth who believe in Him have prohibited any criminal from being crucified; and that cross which the, Jewish persecutors with great mockery prepared for the Lord, even kings, His servants, at this day, bear with great confidence on their foreheads. Only the shameful nature of the death which our Lord vouchsafed to undergo for us is not now so apparent, who, as the apostle says, "Was made a curse for us." And when, as He hung, the blindness of the Jews mocked Him, surely He could have come down from the cross, who, if He had not so willed, had not been on the cross; but it was a greater thing to rise from the grave than to come down from the cross. Our Lord, then, in doing these divine and in suffering these human things, instructs us by His bodily miracles and bodily patience, that we may believe and be made whole to behold those things invisible which the eye of the body hath no knowledge of. With this intent, then, He cured those blind men of whom the account has just now been read in the Gospel. And consider what instruction He has by this cure conveyed to the man who is sick within.
IX. Consider the issue of the thing, and the order of the circumstances. Those two blind men sitting by the wayside cried out, as the Lord passed by, that He would have mercy upon them. But they were restrained from crying out by the multitude which was with the Lord. Now do not suppose that this circumstance is left without a mysterious meaning. But they overcame the crowd who kept them back by the great perseverance of their cry, that their voice might reach the Lord's ears; as tho he had not already anticipated their thoughts. So then the two blind men cried out that they might be heard by the Lord, and could not be restrained by the multitude. The Lord "was passing by," and they cried out. The Lord "stood still," and they were healed. "For the Lord Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, 'What wilt ye that I shall do unto you' They say unto Him, 'That our eyes may be opened.'" The Lord did according to their faith, He recovered their eyes. If we have now understood by the sick, the deaf, the dead, the sick, and deaf, and dead within; let us look out in this place also for the blind within. The eyes of the heart are closed; Jesus passeth by that we may cry out. What is meant by "Jesus passeth by?" Jesus is doing things which last but for a time. What is meant by "Jesus passeth by?" Jesus doth things which pass by. Mark and see how many things of His have passed by. He was born of the Virgin Mary; is He being born always? As an infant He was suckled; is He suckled always? He ran through the successive ages of life until man's full estate; doth He grow in body always? Boyhood succeeded to infancy, to boyhood youth, to youth man's full stature in several passing successions. Even the very miracles which He did are passed by; they are read and believed. For because these miracles are written that so they might be read, they passed by when they were being done. In a word, not to dwell long on this, He was crucified; is He hanging on the cross always? He was buried, He rose again, He ascended into heaven, now He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him. And His divinity abideth ever, yea, the immortality of His body now shall never fail. But nevertheless all those things which were wrought by Him in time have passed by; and they are written to be read, and they are preached to be believed. In all these things, then, Jesus passeth by.
X. And what are the two blind men by the wayside but the two people to cure whom Jesus came? Let us show these two people in the Holy Scriptures. It is written in the Gospel, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also must I bring, that there may be one fold and one Shepherd." Who then are the two people? One the people of the Jews, and the other of the Gentiles. "I am not sent," He saith, "but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." To whom did He say this? To the disciples; when that woman of Canaan, who confest herself to be a dog, cried out that she might be found worthy of the crumbs from the Master's table. And because she was found worthy, now were the two people to whom He had come made manifest, the Jewish people, to wit, of whom He said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and the people of the Gentiles, whose type this woman exhibited, whom He had first rejected, saying, ?It is not meet to cast the children?s bread to the dogs?; and to whom, when she said, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table," He answered, "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." For of this people also was that centurion of whom the same Lord saith, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," because he had said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." So then the Lord even before His passion and glorification pointed out two people, the one to whom He had come because of the promises to the Fathers, and the other whom for His mercy's sake He did not reject; that it might be fulfilled which had been promised to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the nations be blessed."
XI. Attend, now, dearly beloved. The Lord was passing by, and the blind men cried out. What is this "passing by?" As we have already said, He was doing works which passed by. Now upon these passing works is our faith built up. For we believe on the Son of God, not only in that He is the Word of God, by whom all things were made; for if He had always continued in the form of God, equal with God, and had not emptied Himself in taking the form of a servant, the blind men would not even have perceived Him, that they might be able to cry out. But when he wrought passing works, that is, when He humbled Himself, having become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, the two blind men cried out, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David. For this very thing that He, David's Lord and Creator, willed also to be David ?s son, He wrought in time, He wrought passing by.
XII. Now what is it, brethren, to cry out unto Christ, but to correspond to the grace of Christ by good works? This I say, brethren, lest haply we cry aloud with our voices, and in our lives be dumb. Who is he that crieth out to Christ, that his inward blindness may be driven away by Christ as He is passing by, that is, as He is dispensing to us those temporal sacraments, whereby we are instructed to receive the things which are eternal? Who is he that crieth out unto Christ? Whoso despiseth the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso despiseth the pleasures of the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso saith, not with his tongue but with his life, the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso disperseth abroad and giveth to the poor, that his righteousness may endure forever, crieth out unto Christ. For let him that hears, and is nut deaf to the sound, sell that ye have, and give to the poor; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not; let him as he hears the sound as it were of Christ's footsteps passing by cry out in response to this in his blindness; that is, let him do these things. Let his voice be in his actions. Let him begin to despise the world, to distribute to the poor his goods, to esteem as nothing worth what other men love, let him disregard injuries, not seek to be avenged, let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him pray for his enemies; if any one who have taken away his goods, let him not ask for them again; if he have taken anything from any man, let him restore fourfold.
XIII. When he shall begin to do all this, all his kinsmen, relations, and friends will be in commotion. They who love the world will oppose him. What madness this! You are too extreme! What! Are not other men Christians? This is folly, this is madness. And other such like things do the multitude cry out to prevent the blind from crying out The multitude rebuked them as they cried out; but did not overcome their cries. Let them who wish to be healed understand what they have to do. Jesus is now also passing by; let them who are by the wayside cry out. These are they, who know God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. These are by the wayside, to whom, as blinded in heart, Jesus gave His precepts. For when those passing things which Jesus did are recounted, Jesus is always represented to us as passing by. For even unto the end of the world there will not be wanting blind men sitting by the wayside. Need then there is that they who sit by the wayside should cry out. The multitude that was with the Lord would repress the crying of those who were seeking for recovery. Brethren, do you see my meaning? For I know not how to speak, but still less do I know how to be silent. I will speak then, and speak plainly. For I fear Jesus passing by and Jesus standing still; and therefore I can not keep silence. Evil and unknown Christians hinder good Christians who are truly earnest and wish to do the commandments of God, which are written in the Gospel. This multitude which is with the Lord hinders those who are crying out, hinders those, that is, who are doing well, that they may not by perseverance be healed. But let them cry out, and not faint; let them not be led away as if by the authority of numbers; let them not imitate those who become Christians before them, who live evil lives themselves, and are jealous of the good deeds of others. Let them not say, "Let us live as these so many live." Why not rather as the Gospel ordains? Why dost thou wish to live according to the remonstrances of the multitude who would hinder them, and not after the steps of the Lord who passeth by? They will mock, and abuse, and call thee back; do thou cry out till thou reach the ears of Jesus. For they who shall persevere in doing such things as Christ hath enjoined, and regard not the multitude that hinder them, nor think much of their appearing to follow Christ, that is of their being called Christians; but who love the light which Christ is about to restore to them more than they fear the uproar of those who are hindering them; they shall on no account be separated from Him, and Jesus will stand still, and make them whole.
XIV. For how are our eyes made whole? That as by faith we perceive Christ passing by in the temporal economy, so we may attain to the knowledge of Him as standing still in His unchangeable eternity. For there is the eye made whole when the knowledge of Christ's divinity is attained. Let your love apprehend this; attend ye to the great mystery which I am to speak of. All the things which were done by our Lord Jesus Christ, in time, graft faith in us. We believe on the Son of God, not on the word only, by whom all things were made; but on this very word, "made flesh that He might dwell among us"; who was born of the Virgin Mary; and the rest which the Faith contains, and which are represented to us that Christ might pass by, and that the blind, hearing His footsteps as He passeth by, might by their works cry out, by their life exemplifying the profession of their faith. But now in order that they who cry out may be made whole, Jesus standeth still. For he saw Jesus now standing still, who says, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." For he saw Christ's divinity as far as in this life is possible. There is then in Christ the divinity, and the humanity. The divinity standeth still, the humanity passeth by. What means "the divinity standeth still?" It changeth not, is not shaken, doth not depart away. For He did not so come to us as to depart from the Father; nor did He so ascend as to change His place. When He assumed flesh, it changed place; but God assuming flesh, seeing He is not in place, doth not change His place. Let us then be touched by Christ standing still, and so our eyes be made whole. But whose eyes? The eyes of those who cry out when He is passing by; that is, who do good works through that faith which hath been dispersed in time, to instruct in our infancy.
XV. Now what thing more precious can we have than the eye made whole? They rejoice who see this created light which shines from heaven, or even that which is given out from a lamp. And how wretched do they seem who can not see this light? But wherefore do I speak, and talk of all these things, but to exhort you all to cry out, when Jesus passeth by. I hold up this light which perhaps ye do not see as an object of love to you, holy brethren. Believe, while as yet ye see it not; and cry out that ye may see. How great is thought to be the unhappiness of men who do not see this bodily light? Does any one become blind; immediately it is said: "God is angry with him, he has committed some wicked deed." So said Tobias's wife to her husband. He cried out because of the kid, lest it had come of theft; he did not like to hear the sound of any stolen thing in his house; and she, maintaining what she had done, reproached her husband; and when he said, "Restore it if it be stolen"; she answered insultingly, "Where are thy righteous deeds?" How great was her blindness who maintaineth the theft; and how clear a light he saw, who commanded the stolen thing to be restored! She rejoiced outwardly in the light of the sun; he inwardly in the light of righteousness. Which of them was in the better light?
XVI. It is to the love of this light that I would exhort you, beloved; that ye would cry out by your works, when the Lord passeth by; let the voice of faith sound out, that Jesus was standing still, that is, the unchangeable, abiding wisdom of God, and the majesty of the Word of God, by which all things were made, may open your eyes. The same Tobias, in giving advice to his son, instructed him to this, to cry out; that is, he instructed him to good works. He told him to give to the poor, charged him to give alms to the needy, and taught him, saying, "My son, alms suffereth not to come into darkness." The blind gave counsel for receiving and gaining sight. "Alms," saith he, "suffereth not to come into darkness." Had his son in astonishment answered him, "What then, father, hast thou not given alms, that thou speakest to me in blindness; art not thou in darkness, and yet thou dost say to me, Alms suffereth not to come into darkness?" But no, he knew well what the light was concerning which he gave his son instruction, he knew well what he saw in the inner man. The son held out his hand to his father, to enable him to dwell in heaven.
XVII. To be brief; that I may conclude this sermon, brethren, with a matter which touches me very nearly, and gives me much pain, see what crowds there are which rebuke the blind as they cry out. But let them not deter you. whosoever among this crowd desire to be healed; for there are many Christians in name, and in works ungodly; let them not deter you from good works. Cry out amid the crowds that are restraining you, and calling you back, and insulting you, whose lives are evil. For not only by their voices, but by evil works, do wicked Christians repress the good. A good Christian has no wish to attend the public shows. In this very thing, that he bridles his desire of going to the theater, he cries out after Christ, cries out to be healed. Others run together thither, but perhaps they are heathens or Jews? Ah! indeed, if Christians went not to the theaters, there would be so few people there that they would go away for very shame. So then Christians run thither also, bearing the Holy Name only to their condemnation. Cry out then by abstaining from going, by repressing in thy heart this worldly concupiscence; hold on with a strong and persevering cry unto the ears of the Savior, that Jesus may stand still and heal thee. Cry out amid the very crowds, despair not of reaching the ears of the Lord. For the blind man in the Gospel did not cry out in that quarter where no crowd was, that so they might be heard in that direction, where there was no impediment from persons hindering them. Amid the very crowds they cried out; and yet the Lord heard them. And so also do ye even amid sinners, and sensual men, amid the lovers of the vanities of the world, there cry out that the Lord may heal you. Go not to another quarter to cry out unto the Lord, go not to heretics and cry out unto Him there. Consider, brethren, how in that crowd which was hindering them from crying out, even there they who cried out were made whole.
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