Sunday, December 31, 2023

Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go

290 Kelbe L. M.

1 Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go,
   my daily labour to pursue;
   thee, only thee, resolved to know,
   in all I think or speak or do.

2 The task thy wisdom hath assigned
   O let me cheerfully fulfil;
   in all my works thy presence find,
   and prove thy good and perfect will.

3 Give me to bear thy easy yoke,
   and every moment watch and pray,
   and still to things eternal look,
   and hasten to thy glorious day;

4 For thee delightfully employ
   whate'er thy bounteous grace hath given,
   and run my course with even joy,
   and closely walk with thee to heaven.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
An appropriate hymn to end the year with as we look forward to a new year! inserts two verses after verse 2:

3 Preserve me from my calling's snare,
   and hide my simple heart above,
   above the thorns of choking care,
   the gilded baits of worldly love.

4 Thee may I set at my right hand,
   whose eyes my inmost substance see,
   and labour on at thy command,
   and offer all my works to thee.

</idle musing>

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Stand up, stand up for Jesus

283 Geibel. 7. 6. 7. 6. D. with refrain.

1 Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   Ye soldiers of the cross!
   Lift high His royal banner -
   It must not suffer loss.
   From vict'ry unto vict'ry,
   His army shall He lead.
   Till ev'ry foe is vanquished.
   And Christ is Lord indeed.

2 Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   The trumpet call obey;
   Forth to the mighty conflict
   In this His glorious day.
   Ye that are men now serve Him
   Against unnumbered foes;
   Let courage rise with danger
   And strength to strength oppose.

3 Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   Stand in His strength alone;
   The arm of flesh will fail you -
   Ye dare not trust your own.
   Put on the gospel armor,
   Each piece put on with prayer;
   Where duty calls or danger,
   Be never wanting there.

4 Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   The strife will not be long;
   This day the noise of battle -
   The next the victor's song.
   To Him that overcometh
   A crown of life shall be;
   He with the King of glory,
   Shall reign eternally.
                         Charles Duffield
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing the refrain included in the Methodist hymnal (not included above). That might be because it is on the next page and so overlooked? Anyway, here it is:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   Ye soldiers of the cross!
   Lift high His royal banner -
   It must not suffer loss.
There's a story behind this hymn according to
I caught its inspiration from the dying words of that noble young clergyman, Rev. Dudley Atkins Tyng, rector of the Epiphany Church, Philadelphia, who died about 1854. His last words were, "Tell them to stand up for Jesus: now let us sing a hymn." As he had been much persecuted in those pro-slavery days for his persistent course in pleading the cause of the oppressed, it was thought that these words had a peculiar significance in his mind; as if he had said, ‘Stand up for Jesus in the person of the downtrodden slave.' (Luke v. 18.)
Isn't it refreshing to read that standing up for Jesus here doesn't mean standing up for white supremacy as is so often the claim today? Instead, they are standing up to defend the weak and powerless. Would that it were so now!

The original was six verses, with verses 2 and 3 above becoming verses 3 and 4, and verse 4 becoming verse 6:

2. Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   the solemn watchword hear;
   If while ye sleep He suffers,
   away with shame and fear;
   Where’er ye meet with evil,
   within you or without,
   Charge for the God of battles,
   and put the foe to rout.

5. Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
   each soldier to his post,
   Close up the broken column,
   and shout through all the host:
   Make good the loss so heavy,
   in those that still remain,
   And prove to all around you
   that death itself is gain.

</idle musing>

Friday, December 29, 2023

So, what is a prohet?

If you don't read anything else today, you need to read Scot McKnight's post on What's a prophet?

Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

First, a prophet, taking Jeremiah as a paradigm, is one who has been in the cabinet room with God (Yahweh).…

Second, a prophet is someone who has been personally sent by God.…

Third, it’s not fun to be a prophet.…

Go there to fill in the blanks, but the last line sums it all up: "If you’re having fun in your prophetic utterances, it’s not prophecy."

Yep. Being a prophet means interceding with God on behalf of the people and going to people and rebuking them for their sins. Look at Jeremiah especially. There's a reason he's called the weaping prophet!

And then, go pick up the books he recommends, especially Heschel's book! If you are looking for more, you could do much worse than Michael Widmer, Standing in the Breach. I excerpted extensively from it a few years ago.

The three-fold existence of ANE gods

Gods seem to possess three different kinds of substantiality. First, they do have a human-like, material physicality, albeit that theirs is in all respects greater and more powerful than the human version. Second, they also possess its antithesis: an identity or personality that is purely immaterial, although it may be thought to be immanent in the material world as well. And third, in most cases they have also a stellar or perhaps better, a cosmic existence, which is material enough, but not corporeal.—Herman Vanstiphout, in What Is a God?, 27 (emphasis original)

Soldiers of Christ, arise! (all 12 verses!)

282 Diademata. S. M. D.

1. Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
   Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
   Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
   Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

2. Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
   But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
   That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
   Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

3. From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
   Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
   Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, Come!
   Till Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home.
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
The hymn as Wesley wrote it is actually much longer, as are most Wesley hymns. He is putting theology to verse, which usually requires more than three or four verses. As usual, Cyberhymnal has the fullest rendition. Verse 3 above is verse 12 in their version, with the verses inserted after verse 2.

Note the triumphant attitude of the hymn. Wesley firmly believed in victory over sin! No moping in the mud and whining about being a miserable sinner for him. He knew that his sins weren't just forgiven, but were washed away and that he was now a saint being made more whole (and holy) every day: "freed from sin's remains" (v. 6). Note also, that he knows this only happens by the power of God at work in us. Here are the rest of the verses:

3. Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
   Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day.
   But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
   Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.

4. Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
   Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
   Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
   But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your head.

5. But, above all, lay hold on faith’s victorious shield;
   Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
   If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
   Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu’s blood.

6. Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
   Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
   Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv’n:
   Believe, till freed from sin’s remains; believe yourselves to Heav’n.

7. To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
   Still walking in your captain’s sight, and watching unto prayer.
   Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
   And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.

8. Pray without ceasing, pray, your captain gives the word;
   His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
   To God your every want in instant prayer display,
   Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

9. In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
   Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
   Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
   Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.

10. To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
   Or groan, to Him who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
   His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
   In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

11. Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
   And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion’s peace;
   Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
   Extend the arms of mighty prayer, ingrasping all mankind.

</idle musing>

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Wisdom from the ANE: “intellectual” (dub-sar!) was not yet become a term of abuse

Apparently the Babylonians did not set much store by small government, and “intellectual” (dub-sar!) was not yet become a term of abuse. Also, it should count for something that all this thinking and writing came from those who were judged to be the best minds, and certainly the best schooled intellects, of their times.—Herman Vanstiphout, in What Is a God?, 18

Onward, Christian soldiers

280 St. Gertrude. 6. 5. 6. 5. D.

1 Onward, Christian soldiers,
   Marching as to war.
   With the cross of Jesus
   Going on before:
   Christ, the royal Master,
   Leads against the foe;
   Forward into battle,
   See His banners go.

   Onward, Christian soldiers,
   marching as to war,
   With the cross of Jesus
   going on before.

2 Like a mighty army
   Moves the Church of God;
   Brothers, we are treading
   Where the saints have trod,
   We are not divided,
   All one body we:
   One in hope and doctrine,
   One in charity. [Refrain]

3 Crowns and thrones may perish,
   Kingdoms rise and wane,
   But the Church of Jesus
   Constant will remain,
   Gates of hell can never
   'Gainst that Church prevail;
   We have Christ's own promise,
   And that cannot fail. [Refrain]

4 Onward, then, ye people,
   Join our happy throng;
   Blend with ours your voices
   In the triumph song,
   Glory, laud, and honor
   Unto Christ the King:
   This through countless ages
   Men and angels sing. [Refrain]
                         Sabine Barino-Gould
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This was one of my favorite hymns when I was in grade school—probably as much because of the rousing chorus as anything else. I certainly didn't understand the theology of it!

Surprisingly, given my recent poor track record in choosing popular hymns, this one occurs in over 1700 hymnals!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Miscellaneous language tidbits

From the forthcoming The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures 2:

Parthian had been the official language under the Parthians, and the third-century Sasanian kings had their inscriptions written in both Middle Persian and Parthian, some also in Greek. Both Parthian and Middle Persian were written using local Iranian scripts based on Aramaic and were difficult both to read and to write.[1] The Manichean script is based on Syriac scripts, but is not identical with any of the three common ones (Jacobite, Nestorian, and Estrangelo), so today it is usually just called the Manichean script. This script was used to write Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian, as well as Bactrian (one Manichean fragment survives) and some other languages in Xinjiang.

[1]. Notably because of historical spellings (as English and French) and the use of arameograms (also called heterograms), i.e., Aramaic words to be read in Iranian (e.g., YDH̱ spelling dast “hand”). A later version of this script is used in a fragment of the Psalms of David, also found at Turfan, and a still later version is found in the Zoroastrian literature from the ninth century and later, commonly called Pahlavi.

<idle musing>
Interesting. I wasn't aware of the use of arameograms (and, yes, it's lower case!). It's sort of like Akkadian, with its Sumerograms, or Hittite, having Sumerograms and Akkadograms. Miscellaneous tidbit there: In some cases we don't even know the underlying Hittite word because it's never written, just the case endings appear, attached to the Sumerogram or Akkadogram. We know the declension it belongs to and the gender, but not the word itself!
</idle musing>

So, What is a god?

Although we wrestled with such questions [on the nature of the gods in the ANE], we came to no final agreement about the answers to them; it became abundantly clear, however, that the differences in how different genres represent the gods are of crucial importance for our question. Not only do the representations of gods in different genres suggest that there was no single, monolithic “idea of what a god was” in ancient Mesopotamia, even within a single chronological period and area, they also make it abundantly clear that we must understand more about each genre in question, its rules and conventions, its authors, its uses, and its intended purpose or impact, if we are really to understand how Mesopotamians envisioned their gods.—Herman Vanstiphout, in What Is a God? Anthropomorphic and Non-Anthropomorphic Aspects of Anthropomorphic Aspects of Deity in Ancient Mesopotamia, 11

God of grace and God of glory

279 CWM Rhondda. 8. 7. 8. 7. 8. 7.

1 God of grace and God of glory,
   On Thy people pour Thy power;
   Crown Thine ancient Church’s story;
   Bring her bud to glorious flower.
   Grant us wisdom,
   Grant us courage,
   For the facing of this hour,
   For the facing of this hour.

2 Lo! the hosts of evil round us
   Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways!
   Fears and doubts too long have bound us;
   Free our hearts to work and praise.
   Grant us wisdom,
   Grant us courage,
   For the living of these days,
   For the living of these days.

3 Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
   Bend our pride to Thy control;
   Shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
   Rich in things and poor in soul.
   Grant us wisdom,
   Grant us courage,
   Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
   Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

4 Set our feet on lofty places;
   Gird our lives that they may be
   Armored with all Christ-like graces
   In the fight to set men free.
   Grant us wisdom,
   Grant us courage,
   That we fail not them nor Thee,
   That we fail not them nor Thee!

5 Save us from weak resignation
   To the evils we deplore:
   Let the search for Thy salvation
   Be our glory evermore.
   Grant us wisdom,
   Grant us courage,
   Serving Thee whom we adore,
   Serving Thee whom we adore.
                         Henry Emerson Fosdick
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Another rousing hymn. This particular section of the hymnal is entitled The Christian Life: Activity and Zeal, so yesterday's, today's, and the next several days will be rousing hymns, some with military symbolism (see my musings from yesterday on that topic).

I continue to choose hymns that are not common in hymnals. I guess it shows that I grew up in the liberal wing of Christianity, the Methodist church. This, again, was a staple hymn, but it only occurs in 157 hymnals. Sad. It's a good hymn with good solid practical theology. Sure, it's short on atonement themes, but we have other hymns we can sing to supply that! The third verse, especially, speaks to our current situation:

  Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
   Bend our pride to Thy control;
   Shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
   Rich in things and poor in soul.

For those who don't know, Henry Emerson Fosdick was a famous liberal (in the theological sense) pastor in the early–mid part of the twentieth century. He stood strongly against racism and other structural sins. Although he supported the US in WWI, he later regretted it. (The wiki page I linked to is a good source.)
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

And in the end, Where does philosophy go?

Suppose that there is indeed objective truth, but there is no algorithmic method that guarantees us access to that truth. Christian philosophers can, I believe, embrace this possibility without despair. They can hold both that there is a truth to seek, and reasonably hope we can achieve an approximation of that truth if we seek honestly and with passion. Those who know they are made in the image of God will have reason to trust that their human capacities are trustworthy, the gifts of a gracious and loving God. Thus there are resources in the Christian faith that may help protect philosophy itself from the despair that threatens those who aspire to the kind of knowledge Spinoza thought possible, but who realize that it is not humanly achievable.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 585

<idle musing>
That's his summary at the end of the book. I hope you enjoyed that quick romp through almost 600 pages of A History of Western Philosophy.

Tomorrow we'll start a different book, now out of print, to the best of my knowledge, so the link will be to Worldcat, letting you locate a library near you carrying the book. The book? What Is a God? Anthropomorphic and Non-Anthropomorphic Aspects of Anthropomorphic Aspects of Deity in Ancient Mesopotamia, edited by Barbara N. Porter. It used to be distributed by Eisenbrauns, which is why I have a copy. I hope you enjoy the ride!
</idle musing>

Whence authority? (Tozer for Tuesday)

Then there is another kind of authority with prophets and apostles and popes and bishops and religious sages. If they are good, they have borrowed their authority; and if they are bad, they have usurped it. They have authority all right; nobody can doubt it.

Bishops have authority. They can say, “Don’t you do so- and-so,” and the little preacher does not dare do it. Then there are popes and apostles and prophets. Now I say again that if they were good men, they borrowed their authority from God; and if they were bad men, they usurped it from God. So either way they got it from God. But they all had to surrender their authority and die.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 32

Lead on, O King Eternal

278 Lancashire. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 Lead on, O King Eternal.
   The day of march has come!
   Henceforth in fields of conquest
   Thy tents shall be our home;
   Thru days of preparation
   Thy grace has made us strong,
   And now, O King Eternal,
   We lift our battle song.

2 Lead on, O King Eternal,
   Till sin's fierce war shall cease,
   And holiness shall whisper
   The sweet Amen of peace;
   For not with swords' loud clashing
   Nor roll of stirring drums -
   With deeds of love and mercy
   The heav'nly kingdom comes.

3 Lead on, O King Eternal,
   We follow not with fears!
   For gladness breaks like morning
   Where'er Thy face appears;
   Thy cross is lifted o'er us -
   We journey in its light:
   The crown awaits the conquest -
   Lead on, O God of might.
                         Ernest W. Shurtleff
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I know a lot of people are against military imagery in hymns. I'm not, for a couple of reasons. First, it's a scriptural image. Second, people need to realize that their ambition doesn't have to be physical aggression, such as violence, war, etc. Instead, by submitting it all to God, they can turn that ambition to fighting the good fight, as Paul puts it.

I'm continually being amazed at the number of hymnals some of these hymns are in. This one, for example, was a staple when I was growing up. It makes an excellent closing hymn. But it occurs in less than 400 hymnals.

Incidentally, the author of the hymn was in Paris helping refugees during World War I, so he put his life where his theology was.
</idle musing>

Sunday, December 24, 2023

My soul, be on thy guard!

277 Laban. S. M.

1 My soul, be on thy guard:
   Ten thousand foes arise;
   The hosts of sin are pressing hard
   To draw thee from the skies.

2 O watch and fight and pray:
   The battle ne'er give o'er;
   Renew it boldly every day,
   And help divine implore.

3 Ne'er think the victory won,
   Nor lay thine armor down;
   Thine arduous work will not be done
   Till thou obtain the crown.

4 Fight on, my soul, till death
   Shall bring thee to thy God;
   He'll take thee, at thy parting breath,
   To His divine abode.
                         George Heath
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Seems an appropriate hymn for Christmas Eve, as the world waits for the arrival of the Messiah, despite its less than victorious verses. Not surprisingly, the author became a Unitarian pastor. Can't have a victory without Christ.
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Must Jesus bear the cross alone?

276 Maitland. C. M.

1 Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
   And all the world go free?
   No, there's a cross for every one,
   And there's a cross for me.

2 How happy now the saints of God,
   Who once went sorrowing here;
   They rest I joy, life's crown is theirs,
   They know no pain nor tear.

3 The consecrated cross I'll bear
   Till death shall set me free,
   And then go home my crown to wear,
   For there's a crown for me.
                         Thomas Shepherd
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> omits the second verse and adds these two at the end:

3 Upon the crystal pavement, down
   At Jesus' pierced feet,
   Joyful, I'll cast my golden crown
   And His dear name repeat.

4 O precious cross! O glorious crown!
   O resurrection day!
   Ye angels, from the stars come down
   And bear my soul away.

They also have a wide variety of other verses. Go there and compare to your heart's content! Consider it an early Christmas present!
</idle musing>

Friday, December 22, 2023

Make it so, Lord!

Wisdom from Sirach 40:

12 All bribery and injustice
will be wiped out,
      but good faith will last forever.
13 The money of the unjust
will dry up like a river,
      and it will crash like loud thunder
      in a rainstorm.
14 Generous people will rejoice,
      but those who sin will ultimately fail.
15 The offspring of the ungodly
won’t produce many branches,
      and they are polluted roots
      on sheer rock.
16 A reed by any water or riverbank
      will be pulled up before any grass.
17 Kindness is like an orchard of blessings,
      and an act of charity will last forever. (CEB)

To which I can only say, Even so, Lord Jesus, make it so!

Kierkegaard and absolute knowledge

Kierkegaard, responding to Hegel’s claim to deliver absolute knowledge, agrees with Nietzsche that we are not purely rational creatures, and that we can never obtain a godlike point of view. His pseudonym Johannes Climacus makes this plain: “A logical system is possible, but a system of existence is impossible for anyone but God.” We humans can certainly construct logical systems, but they never perfectly capture the whole truth about existence. Our systems can never be totally complete or final in the sense that they are unrevisable. However, it is important that Kierkegaard does not think this means that there is no objective truth that we can seek. Reality is a system for God, and objective truth is simply the truth as God knows it. Furthermore, since we are created in God’s image, there is reason to hope that our search for truth will not be completely in vain. We remain finite, fallible, and sinful creatures, but if we are God’s creatures we have reason to hope that we can at least approximate the truth we need to have as human beings. It is something like this faith in our cognitive powers that underlies Reid’s philosophy of common sense as well.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 582–83

Christian, dost thou see/feel/hear them?

275 St. Andrew of Crete (first tune). Greek Hymn (second tune) 6. 5. 6. 5. D.

1 Christian, dost thou see them
   On the holy ground,
   How the hosts of darkness
   Compass thee around?
   Christian, up and smite them,
   Counting gain but loss:
   Smite them by the merit
   Of the holy Cross!

2 Christian, dost thou feel them,
   How they work within,
   Striving, tempting, luring,
   Goading into sin?
   Christian, never tremble;
   Never be down-cast;
   Gird thee for the battle,
   Watch and pray and fast.

3 Christian, dost thou hear them
   How they speak thee fair;
   “Always fast and vigil?
   Always watch and prayer?”
   Christian, answer boldly:
   “While I breathe, I pray.”
   Peace shall follow battle,
   Night shall end in day.

4 “Well I know thy trouble,
   O my servant true;
   Thou art very weary,—
   I was weary too:
   But that toil shall make thee,
   Some day, all Mine own:
   But the end of sorrow
   Shall be near My Throne.”
                         Andrew of Crete 660–712
                         Tr. by John M. Neale
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn (to either tune). It isn't real common, occurring in just over 300 hymnals.
</idle musing>

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Kierkegaard and existentialism? Maybe not

Eventually Kierkegaard influenced those twentieth century philosophers we today term “existentialists,” such as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. Since most of these thinkers were atheists, Kierkegaard’s fame as the “father of existentialism” came at some cost to our understanding of his own concerns as a Christian thinker. To understand his work, one must read him as “the individual” to whom Kierkegaard himself directed his work, seeing him in terms of his own concerns. While Kierkegaard certainly had a great influence on existentialism, it is important not to anachronistically read back into his own work the concerns of these later thinkers.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 518

Lead us, O Father

271 Burleigh. 10. 10. 10. 10.

1 Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace;
   Without Thy guiding hand we go astray,
   And doubts appall, and sorrows still increase;
   Lead us through Christ, the true and living Way.

2 Lead us, O Father, in the paths of truth;
   Unhelped by Thee, in error's maze we grope,
   While passion stains and folly dims our youth,
   And age comes on, uncheered by faith and hope.

3 Lead us, O Father, in the paths of right;
   Blindly we stumble when we walk alone,
   Involved in shadows of a mortal night;
   Only with Thee we journey safely on.

4 Lead us, O Father, to Thy heav'nly rest,
   However rough and steep the pathway be,
   Through joy or sorrow, as Thou deemest best,
   Until our lives are perfected in Thee.
                         William H. Burleigh
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Reading the lyrics, I was struck by the fact that it would have made a great Trinitarian hymn if the other two members of the Trinity had been mentioned. But, when I checked out the bio of the author and found out he was Unitarian, it made sense. Oh, and it isn't very popular, occurring in under 200 hymnals. His bio mentions that his hymns were more popular in Britain than the US, and that they were more popular outside Unitarianism than within it.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Public Service Announcement (Use of etc. and e.g.)

<rant mode one>
I'm seeing this everywhere lately, so consider this when you use e.g. and etc. together:

The abbreviation e.g. means for example, which implies a list that is incomplete—just a sampling of what's available.

The abbreviation etc. means and the rest, which means there are more, but you don't want to bore the reader. (As a side note: sometimes that's just shoddy research.)

When you put both of them together, What does it mean? It's redundant. You've already told the reader that what follows is just a sampling. You don't need etc. to remind them that there are more.

</rant mode off>

Table of contents for all copyediting posts.

Update, January 16, 2024: I just realized this is basically the same thing I said in August of 2021. Obviously nobody is listening—as if I expected anything different, given my small audience : )

More than mere intellectualism

[Descartes] claims, at the beginning of the Meditations, that he was now in a position to achieve certain knowledge because he had no practical issues to deal with and was “troubled by no passions.” When this kind of intellectualism is applied to the religious life, the result is that the Christian life is confused with objective knowledge of the truths of Christianity. However, Christianity is not merely knowing a set of propositions, or even believing propositions in a purely intellectual way. The biblical concept of faith or belief (pistis) is not mere intellectual assent, but includes trust and a willingness to commit one’s whole life to the truth of what is believed.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 498

Don't shrink back!

270 Arlington. C.M.

1 O for a faith that will not shrink,
   Though pressed by every foe,
   That will not tremble on the brink
   Of any earthly woe.

2 That will not murmur nor complain
   Beneath the chastening rod,
   But, in the hour of grief or pain,
   Will lean upon its God;

3 A faith that shines more bright and clear
   When tempests rage without:
   That when in danger knows no fear,
   In darkness feels no doubt;

4 Lord, give us such a faith as this;
   And then, what e’er may come,
   I’ll taste, e’en now, the hallowed bliss
   Of an eternal home.
                         William H. Bathurst
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
In his biography, they comment "They are characterized by simplicity of language, and directness of aim; but do not in any instance rise above the ordinary level of passable hymn-writing." I don't recall him, but a quick search on my blog reveals that two of his hymns appeared in the 1870 version of the Methodist hymnal.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Hymnal (#428) inserts two verses:

4 That bears, unmoved, the world’s dread frown,
   Nor heeds the scornful smile;
   That seas of trouble cannot drown,
   Nor Satan’s arts beguile;

5 A faith that keeps the narrow way
   Till life’s last hour is fled,
   And with a pure and heavenly ray
   Illumes up a dying bed:

</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Kant, art, and religion

Kant’s view here is widely influential and gives rise to the later slogan “art for arts sake.” Something like this view is found in the very plausible view that great art transcends narrow utilitarian purposes. However, questions can be raised about whether Kant’s view is universally true or merely reflects the new role that art was coming to play in Western culture. In previous cultures, both in the classical and Christian worlds, much of the greatest art clearly had mundane purposes. The Greeks adorned their drinking goblets with exquisite carvings. The great stained-glass windows in cathedrals were meant to enhance worship and educate people. The culture of “high art,” which divorces art from other uses, may reflect particular stresses in modern Western culture, a culture in which art was increasingly called on to do what religion had done previously: give to human life meaning.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 442

<idle musing>
I find that a very interesting insight—especially is you consider some modern forms of entertainment to be art.
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

That deep inward defeat can be cured only by an equal inward release. When the Lord releases a man, he is free; and until he is released, you cannot sing him free, you cannot pound him free, you cannot preach him free and you cannot get him free any way known to mortal man. Yet the Church spends millions of dollars every year putting on religious stuff in order to try to get people free. One simple act of the Holy Spirit will free a man; free him forever and turn him loose. And you can go to God and get bold about it.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 28

Pilot me!

269 Pilot. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
   Over life's tempestuous sea;
   Unknown waves before me roll,
   Hiding rocks and treach'rous shoal;
   Chart and compass come from Thee -
   Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

2 As a mother stills her child,
   Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
   Boist'rous waves obey Thy will
   When Thou sayest to them, "Be still!"
   Wondrous Sov'reign of the sea,
   Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

3 When at last I near the shore,
   And the fearful breakers roar
   'Twixt me and the peaceful rest -
   Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
   May I hear Thee say to me,
   "Fear not - I will pilot thee!"
                         Edward Hopper
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Well, after three hymns that didn't break 300, today's is much more popular (over 1000 hymnals), although I don't recall ever singing it.

As I was reading the lyrics, I suspected he might have some connection with sailing, and sure enough, he pastored a church in Long Island that was largely made up of seamen.

The Cyberhymnal inserts three verses, which definitely emphasize the sailing metaphor. (Remember, in the days of wooden ships, before steam power, radio/radar, and larger steel ships, sailing was an extremely dangerous occupation.)

2. While th’apostles’ fragile bark
   Struggled with the billows dark,
   On the stormy Galilee,
   Thou didst walk upon the sea;
   And when they beheld Thy form,
   Safe they glided through the storm.

3. Though the sea be smooth and bright,
   Sparkling with the stars of night,
   And my ship’s path be ablaze
   With the light of halcyon days,
   Still I know my need of Thee;
   Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

4. When the darkling heavens frown,
   And the wrathful winds come down,
   And the fierce waves, tossed on high,
   Lash themselves against the sky,
   Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
   Over life’s tempestuous sea.

If you happen to click through on the Cyberhymnal link, be sure to read the reflection on the hymn by Sankey!
>/idle musing>

Monday, December 18, 2023

Checks and balances—Where did they come from?

Monarchs who recognize no limits on their power and do not understand that even a monarch must be subject to the law forfeit their legitimacy. Locke’s view of the state then requires that the executive power must not be absolute, but must be checked by an independent judiciary and a legislature that makes the laws. It is easy to see the influence of Locke on the American Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 323–24

And a bit more wisdom from Sirach

And later, in the same chapter:
13:20 The arrogant detest humility;
   so the rich detest the poor.
21 When rich people stumble,
they are supported by friends.
   But when the humble fall,
   their own friends push them away.
22 When the rich slip,
their helpers are many;
   they speak things that shouldn’t be spoken, and people justify them.
The humble slip,
   and people criticize them as well;
   they utter something sensible,
   and no one pays attention.
23 The rich speak, and everyone is silent,
   and what they say is praised
   to the heavens.
   The poor speak, and they say,
   “Who is this?”
   And if the poor stumble,
   others push them down all the more.
24 Wealth is good as long as it’s free of sin;
   the ungodly speak of poverty
   as an evil in and of itself.
And I would argue that wealth rarely, if ever, is free from sin! Especially in twenty-first century United Sates.

A word of advice from Sirach

I make it a point to read through the deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha) once a year or so. Right now I'm in Sirach, and he has some good advice for today:
13:3 Rich people inflict injury,
but then act as if they’re the ones
who have been wronged;
   the poor suffer injury,
   but they’re the ones
   who must apologize.
4 If you are useful to the rich,
they will work with you,
   but if you are in need,
they will abandon you.
5 If you own anything,
they will live with you;
   they will exhaust what you have,
and they won’t suffer.
6 If they need you, they will deceive you
   and smile at you and give you hope;
   they will speak nicely to you and say,
   “What do you need?”
7 They will embarrass you
with their fine foods,
   until they have cleaned you out
   two or three times over.
   In the end they will mock you,
   and after these things,
   they will see you and abandon you
   and shake their heads at you. Sirach 13:3–7 (CEB)
Let those who have ears to hear, hear!

Are ye able?

268 Beacon Hill. Irregular.

1 "Are ye able," said the Master,
   "To be crucified with me?"
   "Yea," the sturdy dreamers answered,
   "To the death we follow Thee."

   Lord, we are able.
   Our spirits are Thine.
   Remold them, make us,
   Like Thee, divine.
   Thy guiding radiance
   Above us shall be
   A beacon to God,
   To love, and loyalty.

2 Are ye able to remember,
   When a thief lifts up his eyes,
   That his pardoned soul is worthy
   Of a place in paradise? [Refrain]

3 Are ye able when the shadows
   Close around you with the sod,
   To believe that spirit triumphs,
   To commend your soul to God? [Refrain]

4 "Are ye able?" Still the Master
   Whispers down eternity,
   And heroic spirits answer
   Now, as then, in Galilee. [Refrain]
                        Earl Marlatt
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
OK, this is getting to be a broken record. I must be really parochial in my upbringing, because this, again, was an old standby. The last two days have seen hymns in the 200–300 hymnal range. Seems I'm going in the wrong direction, because this one only occurs in 86 hymnals!

The author was even on a hymnbook committee, but that doesn't seem to have helped! Oh well. I like it and it's my blog, so I can post the ones I like—and I never really cared about how popular things are. Good thing, too, because if I did, I would have stopped blogging about 10 years ago (you should see how low my hits are now compared to then). :)

By the way, note that the chorus has the theosis theme in it. Maybe that's another reason I like it!
</idle musing>

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Rise up, O men of God

267 Festal Song. s.m. (First Tune); Oxnam. S. M. (Second Tune).

1 Rise up, O men of God!
   Have done with lesser things;
   Give heart and mind and soul and strength
   To serve the King of kings.

2 Rise up, O men of God!
   His kingdom tarries long;
   Bring in the day of brotherhood
   And end the night of wrong.

3 Rise up, O men of God!
   The Church for you doth wait,
   Her strength unequal to her task;
   Rise up, and make her great!

4 Lift high the cross of Christ!
   Tread where His feet have trod;
   As brothers of the Son of man,
   Rise up, O men of God!
                         William P. Merrill
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This was an old standby hymn when I was growing up, so I very surprised to find out that it is only in 247 hymnals!

I had a difficult time finding any biographical information about the author, other than that he died in 1954 and the hymn was written in 1911, but the link I finally found is included above (beware the rant about inclusive language!). Seems he lived quite an interesting life, turning down the chance to become president of Union Theological Seminary!

Sidenote: I'm not really in favor of taking the editorial pen to hymns/books to make them more inclusive. I would rather use the opportunity to explain the cultural differences. I know, I'm a luddite in that respect. Fine. I'm also inconsistent, because I definitely would translate anything from a foreign language into inclusive, modern English. The difference, in my mind anyway, is that one is a fresh writing whereas the other one is a cultural artifact that needs to be appreciated as such. YMMV.
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 16, 2023

O young and fearless prophet

266 Blairgowrie (Dykes). 13. 13. 13. 13.

1 O young and fearless Prophet
   of ancient Galilee,
   your life is still a summons
   to serve humanity;
   to make our thoughts and actions
   less prone to please the crowd,
   to stand with humble courage
   for truth with hearts uncowed.

2 We marvel at the purpose
   that held you to your course
   while ever on the hilltop
   before you loomed the cross;
   your steadfast face set forward
   where love and duty shone,
   while we betray so quickly
   and leave you there alone.

3 O help us stand unswerving
   against war's bloody way,
   where hate and lust and falsehood
   hold back Christ's holy sway;
   forbid false love of country
   that keeps us from your call,
   you lift above the nations
   the unity of all.

4. Create in us the splendor
   that dawns when hearts are kind,
   That knows not race nor station
   as boundaries of the mind;
   That learns to value beauty,
   in heart, or brain, or soul,
   And longs to bind God’s
   children into one perfect whole.

5 O young and fearless Prophet,
   we need your presence here,
   amid our pride and glory
   to see your face appear;
   once more to hear your challenge
   above our noisy day,
   again to lead us forward
   along God's holy way.
                         S. Ralph Harlow
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This is a relatively rare hymn, occurring in less that forty hymnals. The third verse really speaks to where we are today: "forbid false love of country / that keeps us from your call." Would that people would listen! replaces the fourth verse with this one, which is also good. You won't be surprised to find out that the author was a professor of ethics.

4 Stir up in us a protest
   against our greed for wealth,
   while others starve and hunger
   and plead for work and health;
   where homes with little children
   cry out for lack of bread,
   who live their years sore burdened
   beneath a gloomy dread.
</idle musing>

Friday, December 15, 2023

Vapor? Vanity? Meaningless? Which is it?

Rendering hebel as “breath” suggests that Qohelet is not saying that everything is meaningless, but rather that everything—which is important “in its time” (3:1a)—will vanish from “under the sun.” (Rendering hebel as “vapor” lacks the sense of “crucial to life,” but keeps that of ephemerality.)

This understanding of hebel makes sense of, for example, “Enjoy happiness with a woman you love all the fleeting days of life [kol yêmê hayyê heblekā]” (Eccl 9:9) —love is not “vain” or “meaningless,” but it will pass when we die, so enjoy it while God grants it.—Frederic Clarke Putnam, in Devotions on the Hebrew Bible, 149

Kant and salvation

Kant thus defends a kind of Christianity that is reduced to moral action, telling us that a “moral religion” does not consist in “dogmas and rites,” but rather in “the heart’s disposition to fulfil all human duties as divine commands.” In the end Kant’s version of Christianity is one in which humans must merit salvation through their own efforts.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 440

<idle musing>
Empty moralism. No thanks. I'll take a relational god over a strictly moral one any day of the week.
</idle musing>

The choice

263 Ton-Y-Botel. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 Once to every man and nation
   Comes the moment to decide,
   In the strife of truth with falsehood,
   For the good or evil side;
   Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
   Offering each the bloom or blight,
   And the choice goes by forever
   Twixt that darkness and that light.

2 Then to side with truth is noble,
   When we share her wretched crust,
   Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
   And 'tis prosperous to be just;
   Then it is the brave man chooses
   While the coward stands aside,
   Till the multitude make virtue
   Of the faith they had denied.

3 By the light of burning martyrs,
   Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
   Toiling up new Calvaries ever
   With the cross that turns not back;
   New occasions teach new duties,
   Time makes ancient good uncouth;
   They must upward still and onward,
   Who would keep abreast of truth.

4 Though the cause of evil prosper,
   Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
   Though her portion be the scaffold,
   And upon the throne be wrong:
   Yet that scaffold sways the future,
   And, behind the dim unknown,
   Standeth God within the shadow
   Keeping watch above His own.
                         James Russell Lowell
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Not a very popular hymn, it appears in under two hundred hymnals. But popularity isn't everything! I think the words are an accurate statement of life—especially the frought times we live in.
</idle musing>

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The hidden assumptions will get you every time

There is a valuable lesson for all of us here: Very often the most important assumptions we make are ones we are not even aware of making. This is one of the reasons why the study of the history of philosophy is valuable. By its study, we can come to see that things that seemed utterly obvious to people in one era seem dubious to those in another era. And we can perhaps sometimes, by comparing our contemporary intellectual world to those past worlds, become aware of assumptions we have that we would otherwise fail to see.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 252

Jesus, I my cross have taken

261 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 Jesus, I my cross have taken,
   All to leave, and follow Thee;
   Destitute, despised, forsaken,
   Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
   Perish every fond ambition,
   All I've sought or hoped, or known;
   Yet how rich is my condition:
   God and heaven are still my own!

2 Let the world despise and leave me;
   They have left my Savior, too.
   Human hearts and looks deceive me;
   Thou art not, like man, untrue.
   And, while Thou shalt smile upon me,
   God of wisdom, love, and might,
   Foes may hate, and friends may shun me;
   Show Thy face, and all is bright.

3 Man may trouble and distress me,
   'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
   Life with trials hard may press me;
   Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
   O 'tis not in grief to harm me
   While Thy love is left to me;
   O 'twere not in joy to charm me,
   Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

4 Haste thee on from grace to glory,
   Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
   Heaven's eternal day's before thee,
   God's own hand shall guide thee there.
   Soon shall close thy earthly mission;
   Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
   Hope shall change to glad fruition,
   Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
                         Henry F. Lyte
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Pascal and evidence

Pascal provides arguments and appeals to miracles to show the plausibility of the Christian revelation. However, in the end he recognizes that, although evidence is necessary for faith, faith is never the product solely of evidence, for humans will in the end believe what they find most attractive: “There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.” [Blaise Pascal, Pensées, trans. William Finlayson Trotter (New York: Dutton, 1958), 118.]—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 236

<idle musing>
Ain't that the truth!
</idle musing>

Take up the cross

260 Germany. L. M.

1 "Take up thy cross," the Savior said,
   "If thou wouldst My disciple be;
   Deny thyself, the world forsake,
   And humbly follow after Me."

2 Take up thy cross; let not its weight
   Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
   His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
   And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

3 Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame;
   Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
   Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
   To save thy soul from death and hell.

4 Take up thy cross and follow Christ;
   Nor think till death to lay it down;
   For only He who bears the cross
   May hope to wear the glorious crown.
                         Charles W. Everest
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No a whole lot is known about the author of this hymn—the only one of his that is in any hymnals (appearing in 295). In fact, says this about the hymn: "The original text of this hymn differs very materially from that which is usually found in the hymn-books."
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

A surprising claim by Aquinas

Some of the precepts of the natural law that Aquinas affirms will be surprising to some. For example, Aquinas holds, as we might expect, that theft is a sin, and in fact a mortal sin. However, he claims that, when a person in great need takes from someone who has more than he needs, it is not a case of theft.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 202

<idle musing>
For some reason I just can't see the Silicon Valley billionaires embracing that line of thinking. Or the members of the US Congress.

Truth be told, I suspect they would reverse it and say that it isn't theft to take from those who have little to enlarge their own fortune. Well, that's the way they act anyway, and by their fruit you know them. James 5 comes to mind:

5 Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. 4 Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. 5 You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who doesn’t oppose you. (CEB)
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

We say, “O, God, give me patience.” God does not give us patience as we might go and buy a can of beans at the grocery store. He gives us patience by letting us suffer tribulations. Nobody likes that. We say, “Lord, I wish I could do it differently.” But God knows best, after all. If He put tribulation before you and said He will give you patience by giving you a little trouble along the way, wouldn’t you take a little trouble?

You say, “Lord, I want all my highways paved.” The Lord says, “I’m sorry, I can’t accommodate you. I’m going to let you run over some bumps occasionally, so you will have patience.” You do not like the bumps, but you like the patience, and if you want the patience, you will have to take the bumps.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 27

Take the name of Jesus with you

253 Precious Name. 8. 7. 8. 7. with Refrain.

1 Take the name of Jesus with you,
   Child of sorrow and of woe;
   It will joy and comfort give you–
   Take it, then, where'er you go.

   Precious Name, O how sweet!
   Hope of earth and joy of heaven;
   Precious Name, O how sweet!
   Hope of earth and joy of heaven.

2 Take the Name of Jesus ever,
   As a shield from every snare;
   If temptations round you gather,
   Breathe that holy Name in prayer. [Refrain]

3 O the precious Name of Jesus!
   How it thrills our souls with joy,
   When His loving arms receive us,
   And His songs our tongues employ! [Refrain]

4 At the Name of Jesus bowing,
   Falling prostrate at His feet.
   King of kings in heaven we'll crown Him,
   When our journey is complete. [Refrain]
                         Lydia Baxter
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, December 11, 2023

The not-so-dark medieval period

The thirteenth century was a period of great intellectual activity in Europe, contrary to the popular stereotype of the medieval period as the “Dark Ages.” By the year 1300 at least thirty-three universities had been founded in Europe. These typically grew out of “cathedral schools” primarily designed to train clergy. The earliest universities date from the ninth century in Italy, probably in Salerno and Bologna. Oxford University was founded around 1115, with Cambridge following around 1209.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 173

Draw me nearer

252 I Am Thine. 10. 7. 10. 7. with Refrain.

1. I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
   And it told Thy love to me;
   But I long to rise in the arms of faith
   And be closer drawn to Thee.

   Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
   To the cross where Thou hast died;
   Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
   To Thy precious, bleeding side.

2. Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
   By the pow’r of grace divine;
   Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
   And my will be lost in Thine. [Refrain]

3. Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
   That before Thy throne I spend,
   When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
   I commune as friend with friend! [Refrain]

4. There are depths of love that I cannot know
   Till I cross the narrow sea;
   There are heights of joy that I may not reach
   Till I rest in peace with Thee. [Refrain]
                         Fanny J. Crosby
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Take time!

251 Holiness 60 50 6. 50 D.

1. Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
   Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
   Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
   Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
   Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
   By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
   Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
   And run not before Him, whatever betide.
   In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
   And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

4. Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
   Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
   Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
   Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
                         Willaim D. Longstaff
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
When I went to to check on the biography for Longstaff, I was shocked to discover this hymn only occurs in 297 hymnals! It was an old standby when I was growing up, so I assumed it was more common.

Be that as it may, this is the perfect hymn for our rushed society, as "the world rushes on."

By the way, you could do worse today than reading the brief biography of Longstaff. The reach of Keswick was long. Pity it got coopted by those who don't believe in deliverance from sin in this life. How can you live that way? : (

Totally off subject now, but I've noticed a significant difference in the last hundred or so years in how the gospel is presented. It used to be "cast out our sin" to quote a famous Christmas carol, but now it has become "forgive our sin." Subtle difference, but the difference between a victorious life and a life of strife and struggle. As I said, How can you live that way? It sells the gospel and the power of God way too short. Anyway, just an
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Rescue the perishing

250 Rescue. 6. 5. 10. D. with Refrain.

1 Rescue the perishing,
   Care for the dying,
   Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
   Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
   Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

   Rescue the perishing,
   Care for the dying;
   Jesus is merciful,
   Jesus will save.

2 Though they are slighting Him,
   Still He is waiting,
   Waiting the penitent child to receive;
   Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
   He will forgive if they only believe. [Refrain]

3 Down in the human heart,
   Crushed by the tempter,
   Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
   Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
   Chords that were broken will vibrate once more. [Refrain]

4 Rescue the perishing,
   Duty demands it;
   Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
   Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
   Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died. [Refrain]
                         Fanny Crosby
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, December 08, 2023

Alphabets and colonialism

It is historically true that logogram-and-syllabogram-dominated writing systems preceded syllabogram-dominated systems, and that alphabets come last. This priority does not mean that the later types of system are superior or are features of superior cultures. To believe in such superiority is at base naive ethnocentrism.… The specious historical corollary of this distinction leads to sharp separations among the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean basin, and the forms of ethnocentrism at hand can be named with an unfortunate precision: colonialism, Eurocentrism, anti-Semitism.—Michael O’Connor, in Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew, 244–45

<idle musings>
This seems especially appropriate in our current cultural war.
</idle musing>

Early theories of atonement (hint: there weren't any)

It is interesting that the Christian doctrine that Christ atoned for human sin through his death and resurrection did not, unlike such doctrines as the incarnation and the Trinity, become the subject of controversy in the early church, and therefore never was explained or spelled out in the early, ecumenical creeds. The New Testament itself, in describing Christ’s atonement, employs a number of different images or metaphors. Christ’s death is variously described as a sacrifice, a punishment that Christ bore on behalf of humans, and as a “ransom for many.” Early Christian thinkers mainly relied on the last of these images, seeing Christ’s death as a ransom paid by God that liberated humans from the power of sin, death, and Satan.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 160–61

I love to tell the story

249 Hankey. 7. 6. 7. 6. with Refrain.

1 I love to tell the story
   Of unseen things above,
   Of Jesus and His glory,
   Of Jesus and His love.
   I love to tell the story,
   Because I know it's true;
   It satisfies my longings
   As nothing else would do.

   Tell me the old, old story,
   'Twill be my theme in glory
   To tell the old, old story,
   Of Jesus and His love.

2 I love to tell the story;
   More wonderful it seems
   Than all the golden fancies
   Of all our golden dreams.
   I love to tell the story:
   It did so much for me.
   And that is just the reason
   I tell it now to thee. [Refrain]

3 I love to tell the story,
   'Tis pleasant to repeat
   What seems, each time I tell it,
   More wonderfully sweet.
   I love to tell the story,
   For some have never heard
   The message of salvation
   From God's own holy Word. [Refrain]

4 I love to tell the story,
   For those who know it best
   Seem hungering and thirsting
   To hear it like the rest.
   And when, in scenes of glory,
   I sing the new, new song,
   'Twill be the old, old story,
   That I have loved so long.
                         Katherine Hankey
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Anselm's impassible God

Anselm himself, relying on Platonic views about perfection, uses such arguments to defend the view that God is “impassible” (cannot be affected by anything outside of himself), changeless, timeless, and utterly simple. Reflection on God’s attributes using the method of what has come to be called “perfect being theology” is still very much alive. However, some contemporary philosophers, while still employing perfect being theology, have questioned some of Anselm’s Platonic ideas about what counts as a perfection. For example, is it really a perfection not to be able to be affected by what else happens? Might it be that a God who is capable of interacting with and responding to his creatures is actually more perfect than a God who is incapable of change? It seems particularly important to think about how a God who chose to become incarnate as a human being might change and interact with his creatures.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 160

The ninety-nine versus the one who was lost

247 The Ninety and Nine. Irregular.

1 There were ninety and nine that safely lay
   In the shelter of the fold,
   But one was out on the hills away,
   Far off from the gates of gold–
   Away on the mountains wild and bare,
   Away from the tender Shepherd’s care,
   Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

2 "Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
   Are they not enough for Thee?"
   But the Shepherd made answer: "This of mine
   Has wandered away from me;
   And although the road be rough and steep,
   I go to the desert to find my sheep,
   I go to the desert to find my sheep."

3 But none of the ransomed ever knew
   How deep were the waters crossed;
   Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed thro'
   Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
   Out in the desert He heard its cry–
   So sick and helpless and ready to die;
   So sick and helpless and ready to die.

4 "Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way
   That mark out the mountain’s track?"
   "They were shed for one who had gone astray
   Ere the Shepherd could bring him back."
   "Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?"
   "They are pierced tonight by many a thorn,
   They are pierced tonight by many a thorn."

5 And all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
   And up from the rocky steep,
   There arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven,
   "Rejoice! I have found my sheep!"
   And the angels echoed around the throne,
   "Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own,
   Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!"
                         Elizathe C. Clephane
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn—and it doesn't appear to be very common, appearing in only about 360 hymnals. But I do like the words—it speaks to the love that the Savior has for the "least of these." That an important thing to remember in our "get-ahead-at-all-costs" world. It's the least and last of these that will be first, as the Magnificat so wonderfully says, and examples could be multiplied from scripture.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Don't let your sense of awe decrease!

Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the universe becomes a market place for you. The loss of awe is the avoidance of insight. A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom, for the discovery of the world as an allusion to God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel, Who Is Man? (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1965), 88–89, as quoted here.

<idle musing>
Yep. Why do we treat the world as a marketplace? Because we've lost that sense of awe. Nature is something to conquer and exploit, no longer something to look at with a sense of awe as the psalmists did.
</idle musing>

Boethius and divine foreknowledge

Boethius uses this concept of eternity to try to resolve one of the most famous problems in the philosophy of religion, reconciling God’s foreknowledge of human actions with human free will. In The Consolations of Philosophy Boethius first poses the problem. Human freedom, in the sense required for moral responsibility, seems to require that humans have alternative possibilities, since people are not held responsible for doing what they could not help doing. However, if God knows beforehand what a person will do, and if God is necessarily omniscient and cannot be mistaken, it is hard to see how a person can do anything else than what God foresees. Boethius first argues that merely knowing what a person will do does not causally necessitate the person to do a particular action, since we can observe a person who is acting freely without negating the freedom. He then argues that since God as eternal has no temporal before and after, it is false to say that God foreknows any human action. God simply knows—in his timeless, eternal mode of being—what a person will do, but for God this is not foreknowledge. Every moment of time is for God “present.”—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 152

My hope is built

244 The Solid Rock. L. M. with Refrain.

1 My hope is built on nothing less
   Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
   I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
   But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

   On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
   All other ground is sinking sand,
   All other ground is sinking sand.

2 When darkness veils His lovely face,
   I rest on His unchanging grace;
   In ev'ry high and stormy gale
   My anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]

3 His oath, His covenant, His blood
   Support me in the whelming floods;
   When all around my soul gives way,
   He then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]

4 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
   O may I then in Him be found,
   Dressed in His righteousness alone,
   Faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
                         Edward Mote
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Interesting backstory on this hymn:

In the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off. On the Sabbath following I met brother King as I came out of Lisle Street Meeting . . . who informed me that his wife was very ill, and asked me to call and see her. I had an early tea, and called afterwards. He said that it was his usual custom to sing a hymn, read a portion, and engage in prayer, before he went to meeting. He looked for his hymnbook but could find it nowhere. I said, ‘I have some verses in my pocket; if he liked, we would sing them.' We did; and his wife enjoyed them so much, that after service he asked me, as a favour, to leave a copy of them for his wife. I went home, and by the fireside composed the last two verses, wrote the whole off, and took them to sister King. . . As these verses so met the dying woman's case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand printed for distribution.
So, it sounds like he actually wrote six verses. Most hymnals only print four of the verses (which is all I've ever seen). In fact, even the Cyberhymnal, which usually is the most complete version, only lists four verses. I haven't found a version with the six verses.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Anselm and faith

Thus Anselm’s motto could well be described as “faith seeking understanding.” This should not be understood as if faith were some kind of inferior cognitive state that gets upgraded to or replaced by understanding. Faith is not mere belief, but a state in which one trusts and loves God, and Anselm sees this affective stance as one that makes a deeper understanding possible. Nor is the understanding that faith makes possible something that replaces faith; it is rather a state that faith continually nourishes and renews. However, to say that Anselm’s philosophy is one that sees philosophical thinking as rooted in faith is not to say that such thinking has no value or relevance to the unbeliever.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 156

Tozer for Tuesday

This is what happened when you were converted. You were made worthy to be a partaker in the inheritance. You were not worthy, but God made you worthy; and when God makes anybody worthy, it is so. You have been forgiven, so act like it. “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou unclean” (Acts 11:8). If God cleanses you of anything, you do no one any good by lying down like a whipped spaniel. So get up and thank God that you have been made worthy to be one of His children, delivered out of the power of darkness, and redeemed through His blood.—A.W. Tozer, Reclaiming Christianity, 23

<idle musing>
No defeated Christianity for this guy! We aren't just forgiven sinners! We are cleansed saints who have been delivered from darkness! That was Tozer's continual cry and heartbeat. Would that it were more common!

I'm sick of reading books that talk about us as miserable sinners with no hope. That's not biblical Christianity! Romans 8 isn't meant for the hereafter. It's meant to be lived in now. Claim your inheritance in Christ and live in the victory that he provides!
</idle musing>

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!

242 He Leadeth Me. L. M. with Refrain.

1. He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
   O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
   Whate’er I do, where’er I be
   Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

   He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
   By His own hand He leadeth me;
   His faithful foll’wer I would be,
   For by His hand He leadeth me.

2. Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
   Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
   By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
   Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

3. Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
   Nor ever murmur nor repine;
   Content, whatever lot I see,
   Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

4. And when my task on earth is done,
   When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
   E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
   Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
                         Joseph H. Gilmore
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, December 04, 2023

Early Augustine vs. later (or, predistination or freed will?)

Interestingly, some of Augustine’s opponents in this battle used Augustine’s own early writings, in which he argued that a rational being can only be corrupted if the person’s will consents to the corruption, as ammunition against him. Augustine holds strongly to divine predestination, but also wants to maintain human responsibility for sin. How the two are to be reconciled is a problem Augustine bequeaths to the later church.—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 145

What a friend we have in Jesus

240 Converse. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 What a Friend we have in Jesus,
   All our sins and griefs to bear!
   What a privilege to carry
   Ev'rything to God in prayer!
   Oh what peace we often forfeit,
   Oh what needless pain we bear,
   All because we do not carry
   Ev'rything to God in prayer!

2 Have we trials and temptations?
   Is there trouble anywhere?
   We should never be discouraged–
   Take it to the Lord in prayer!
   Can we find a friend so faithful,
   Who will all our sorrows share?
   Jesus knows our ev'ry weakness–
   Take it to the Lord in prayer!

3 Are we weak and heavy-laden,
   Cumbered with a load of care?
   Precious Savior, still our refuge–
   Take it to the Lord in prayer!
   Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
   Take it to the Lord in prayer!
   In His arms He'll take and shield thee–
   Thou wilt find a solace there.
                         Joseph Scriven
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Interesting tidbit from the biography link:

He also experienced mistrust from neighbors who did not appreciate his eccentricities or his work with the underprivileged. A member of the Plymouth Brethren, he tried to live according to the Sermon on the Mount as literally as possible, giving and sharing all he had and often doing menial tasks for the poor and physically disabled.
Yep. Those who follow the Sermon on the Mount are always looked upon with mistrust…
</idle musing>

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Softly and Tenderly

239 Softly and Tenderly. 7. 9. 7. 9. with Refrain.

1 Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
   Calling for you and for me;
   See, on the portals He's waiting and watching,
   Watching for you and for me.

   Come home, come home,
   Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling -
   Calling, "O sinner, come home!"

2 Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
   Pleading for you and for me?
   Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
   Mercies for you and for me? [Refrain]

3 O for the wonderful love He has promised,
   Promised for you and for me;
   Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon,
   Pardon for you and for me. [Refrain]
                         Will L. Thompson
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> inserts a verse after verse 2:

3 Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
   Passing from you and from me;
   Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
   Coming for you and for me. [Refrain]
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Blessed Assurance!

238 Assurance. 9. 10. 9. 9. with Refrain.

1 Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine!
   O what a foretaste of glory divine!
   Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
   Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

   This is my story, this is my song,
   Praising my Savior all the day long;
   This is my story, this is my song,
   Praising my Savior all the day long.

2 Perfect submission, perfect delight,
   Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
   Angels descending bring from above
   Echoes of mercy, whispers of love. [Refrain]

3 Perfect submission, all is at rest,
   I in my Savior am happy and blest;
   Watching and waiting, looking above,
   Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. [Refrain]
                         Fanny Crosby
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Probably one of Fanny Crosby's most well-known hymns. What surprised me was that it only occurs in a little over a thousand hymnals. I expected twice that. You never know what to expect!
</idle musing>

Friday, December 01, 2023

Augustine again—this time on transformation and love

Knowing God cannot be divorced from the transformation of the person into someone who is godly, and thus is capable of knowing God. The key quality for Augustine turns out to be love, since God is himself love. It is love that makes it possible for us to live as God wills to fulfill God’s law, a view Augustine memorably expresses in the epigram “Love and do what you will.”—Evans, A History of Western Philosophy, 144