Friday, September 15, 2006

things I don't understand.

Would-be atheists and those attracted by the historical claims of Messianic Jews.

So for some reason I was enticed to post on a Christian message board in their general theology section about prayer and doubt - don't worry, a one-liner - and some guy IMed me with a blatant cry for help. He often wondered whether Christianity was just made up and how a good God could create evil and stuff like that. So I asked him what sort of god it was he didn't believe in, and he was like, any of 'em, but the Christian one as well. And I was like, no, tell me about this Christian God you don't believe in, and he went into very standard atheist arguments against God. The point was to get to the point where he sees that Christians probably don't believe in the god he doesn't believe in, either, and that we aren't just being stupid here. We may be wrong [I certainly hope we aren't], but not stupid. Anyways. So I asked whether he'd read much theology, because it seemed from his discussion that he had only read atheist apologetics, so I wanted to know if he knew anything about Christianity. And he was like, sure, yeah, I've read plenty of theology. I asked him what he had read, and he named a universalist comparative religions professor and said most of his reading was internet stuff, including "Internet Infidels". And I replied, "Okay, so you don't know much about Christianity." And he was like, "Do you have an argument against what I said?" I basically replied that he'd better read some primary sources on Christian doctrine if he wants to know what Christianity teaches. He said, essentially, that I seemed to be saying that one could only critique the logic of Christianity if one had read books by Christians and that he didn't necessarily agree with that. I was going to tell him to demand a refund from his university, but instead implied that he was intellectually lazy, recommended some D B Hart, and told him that, if the 100-page book was too long, I had a couple links, one 1 printed page and the other 5 printed pages on the same subject. He didn't say much after that.

What I don't understand: he presented himself as a person struggling against atheism and a former Christian. His reading list indicates that he was not interested at all in remaining a Christian, as all he read was bad atheist apologetics. Why, then, present himself as such? I can understand wanting to rid oneself of one's Christianity, but one should be honest about the process. And if one does so, I imagine that one would want to engage the best arguments for it if one were going to put on the facade of arguing yourself out of it. I mean, hey, I can give a very sympathetic reading to Nietzsche. I even gladly do so. Why on earth should the above person be so unwilling to do so with good Christian theology?

One other thing I do not understand is people who buy the historical claims of Messianic Judaism. Not the sort which is just Protestantism dancing with a Torah, I mean the sort which questions the Trinity, claims true continuity with the Jewish convert communities like the Nazarenes mentioned by St. Jerome [though he appears to claim they were trinitarians with orthodox christology], and other such silly things. And I'm like, whatte the swyve? I can't even begin to mock such views, which is, unfortunately, only going to add to their persecution complex. I mean, sure, whatever, keep the Law, circumsize, meet on the Sabbath as well, do what you will as long as you submit to the Church. The stimulus for this rant, of course, was this guy who was like, "I'm not sure whether the Orthodox or the Messianic Jewish version of history is the true one, so I have these horribly inane questions...". I've really got to learn to respect religious arguments which just seem stupid, but today isn't the day.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

on intents and purposes

An engaged couple is not, "for all intents and purposes", the same as married. While for most social purposes - invitations, seating arrangements, etc - they are the same, and indeed for almost any intent or purpose that I would have a polite interest in, but for more intensive purposes, where the rubber meets the road and somebody's [say] dead or dying, they are not. Legally, sacramentally, and privately, there is still a world of difference. Hence, they are not, for all intents and purposes, the same as married, even thirty minutes before the wedding. There are many other situations in life which are much the same, and the difference is not merely a slip of paper. I have a deposit box full of very important slips of paper, by the way, so I'm not about to downplay the importance of slips of paper.

And while a recently married man may be qualified to give advice to pious young bachelors on making the transition to married life, I wouldn't trust them much beyond that. I'm sure we've all heard recently-married fobs spouting all manner of foolishness on the married state which they later recanted [if they didn't just change their views and shut their mouth, realizing nobody would care if they recanted because everybody knows they were just being silly and would grow up in two years [it's like how an 11-yr-old would say that girls are icky and they'd never marry one]]. It happens. There is no royal road to maturity, wisdom takes time to cultivate. I'd never say that an engaged man is in any way inferior to a married man, or a recently-married man inferior to a pious grandfather, but, you know, due deference to one's elders is mandated by God Almighty, whose judgments are inscrutable.

I'm sorry if this seems like an oblique reply to something else, because it is. Let's just say that my drafting table is developing a head-shaped dent as I'm reading some barely-dry convert discuss the difference between Orthodox contemplative prayer and Catholic prayer, and it is excessively obvious he has once read some Metropolitan Hierotheos and not once read Juan de la Cruz. I'm resisting the temptation to ask him for advice.

Monday, September 11, 2006

More suggestions on style.

As was the case with the term "web-log", certain features of current life have annoyed me enough that I feel the need to make some stylistic recommendations.
  1. on the sacrament of initiation: One enters into the Church by baptism, which is immediately followed by chrismation and soon followed by the Eucharist. If one has already been baptized properly, one is only chrismated. But the normative means of entry is baptism, and, therefore, when making general references to entrance into the Church, baptism rather than chrismation should be referred to, even if most of the people in question were probably only chrismated rather than given the full run of things. Example: "A man should wait at least three years after baptism before considering going to seminary," instead of, "A man should wait at least three years after chrismation...". The only danger is that some people will somehow think it doesn't apply to them because they were baptized decades ago and chrismated five minutes ago. Such people are, however, probably dense or stubborn enough that it doesn't matter what you say to them.
  2. on belts: Belts match shoes.
  3. catsup on hot dogs: A sin unless you're like 14 or real condiments are not available. Even worse on a polish, since the requirements for a proper Maxwell Street polish are much less stringent than those for a proper Chicago-style hot dog.
I hope this helps. Please consider following these directives, but they are merely stylistic suggestions directed at nobody in particular. If I am wrong or out of place, please inform the competent authority [ie, me].

on the Greek

So one of these is being dropped in my lap soon, hardly ideal, but good enough for reading on the beach [one must keep one's eyes on something wholesome while there, you know]. I would, obviously, prefer something like this, but when something drops in your lap, you shouldn't complain. It will nicely supplement my recently-acquired God's-Own-Language and Russian PDF Bibles, except that I can actually read the Greek.

Which of course, reminds me of something about literacy. As readers of Mr Sanchez's web-log know, we frequently have visitors from Moody come by and sometimes they may get a little fiesty afterwards. It's hardly fair, since they all are getting degrees in biblical studies and we all are, of course, illiterate and/or forbidden to actually crack open the book, but I figure that no harm will come of it if I clandestinely read the thing1. Don't tell anyone!

1: "Technically, we're not allowed to go to the bathroom."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Adjust Date and Time

On a whim, we were discussing changing our web-logs to use alternative date formats. Specifically, the Orthodox Old Calendar which dates from the creation of the world in 5509 BC and has the new year at September 1st, so today would be August 28th, 7514. So far, no luck. I can't even find where on my own computer to switch the date format. When I installed the OS, it had options for Islamic and Jewish calendar systems, but the time/date dialogue now doesn't seem to offer it. It shouldn't be that hard, it's just the Julian calendar with a few years added on the date. Hmm. As soon as I figure out how to enable that, it shouldn't be too hard to write in support for God's own dating system. Oh well. I will keep you posted.

UPDATE: I found where I can switch between Gregorian, Hebrew, Islamic, and Jalali calendars on my desktop. Now I just need to find the documentation for writing my own extension to create a proper calendar [I heard there's Julian support somewhere]. And also do the same automatically here. Just for kicks.

EDIT: because of archiving, I may just make it supplemental dating rather than replacing the date.