Saturday, April 30, 2005

Nothing to Explain

I've been reading Bram Stoker's Dracula and happened upon a couple great quotes.

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing is about to explain about the supernatural. He says:
Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.

And, immediately following:
But yet we see around us every day the growth of new beliefs, which think themselves new; and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be young - like the fine ladies at the opera.

Oh, so true. So true.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Martin Luther on Serving God

I've been reading some sermons by Martin Luther (The House Postils, Volume 3, Klug), and was struck by his commentary on Matthew 22:34-36 (love the Lord first, then love your neighbor as yourself).

Luther says that in his day, people who wanted to serve God would attempt it by methods of their own devising: pilgimages, entering monestaries, by fasting and by vigils and singing. No! He says, that's not it.

He writes:

"Serving is doing what God commands.... How could God make serving Him any plainer and explain it any more simply? In other words, if you want so serve Me, pay attention to me and I'll tell you all you need to know; just listen to what I said and do it; love me and your neighbor."

And later...

"Is it serving God when you crawl into a corner [as a monk] where you help and bring solace to no one? What need does our Lord God have of the service you perform in a corner? The one who wants to serve God should not crawl into an isolated cell but remain among people and serve them, where he can rest assured that thereby he is serving God."

"If, when we serve our neighbor, each one would consider it as being done to God, the whole world would be filled with God-pleasing service."

I'm not quite this down on taking a break from the company of others (after all, Jesus did it for forty days, and Paul spent three years in the desert), but in neither case was that break permanent (and I think this was Luther's point); Jesus and Paul ended their isolation and went out to bless other people.

Also, this commentary makes me wonder if there are ways that we, today, have unconsiously come up with for "serving God" that God never commanded or intended.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Scraps - A Few Random Thoughts

  • Prophecy ~ There's a prophesy in 2 Sam. 7:12-16 that David's son would build a temple for God. In a sense it sounds as if it is describing Solomon and in a sense it sounds as if it is describing Jesus, and sometimes it sounds as if it is talking about both. Did Solomon build a temple for God? Yup. But then it promises the throne of his kingdom will be forever. Last time I checked there is no earthly king descended from Solomon on the throne of Israel, but Christ is king and he is of the line of Solomon, and his rule is eternal. Then it says , "When he does wrong." Did Christ do wrong? Nope. Did Solomon? Yup. And the punishment is "floggings inflicted by men." Did Solomon endure floggings? Not to my knowledge. Did Christ? Yup. Like so many prophesies, the immediate and the distant mingle. In the midst of the here-and-now is a glimpse of eternity.

  • Litigious ~ If you've ever doubted that the United States is overly litigious, try buying a mountain bike. I bought a nice Cannondale a week ago and found 68 warning messages in a 116-page manual, and virtually every one of them threatens death. The author started off warning of "serious injury or death" and then apparently got into the spirit of the thing, changing the phrase to "serious injury, paralysis, or death." Many of the warnings were blazingly obvious (For instance I was told that I'm not surrounded by a metal shell, as in a car. Duh.) It went from that through dozens of others to a warning against painting your bike, with the standard threat of injury and death. I don't blame Cannondale for this. I'm sure it's just covering its butt from people who want transfer the monetary conequences of random events or their own stupidity onto someone else. Do accidents always have to be somebody's fault? Also, it seems that by having so many warnings you devalue the warnings about things that are really likely to happen.

  • Ressurection ~ apparently believes in the resurrection. I recently ordered copies of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and Cervantes' Don Quixote from Amazon. I had to laugh when I came to the check-out page. Amazon was pushing it's Amazon Alerts. It said...

    "Sign up to be e-mailed when new products from your favorite artists are released.

    "Books by Mark Twain

    Yes indeed. I'm looking forward to Mark Twain's next novel.

  • Non Words ~ For some reason it occurred to me that a lot of "speech" is wordless and occurs through the nose. Examples:

    Yes: Um-hm
    No: Uh-uh
    I don't know: Mmm-mmm. (High on the first mmm, low on the second mmm)
    What? - Hmm?
    I'm thinking about it. - Hmmm...
    Oh. Uh.
    Tasty, sexy: MMMM-mm!
    Well, how about that! Hmm!