Hymnus Deo

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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Religiosity of State Education

Progressive education has two parents, Prussia and John Dewey.  The kindergarten was transplanted into the United States from Prussia in the nineteenth century because American reformers were so enamored of the order and patriotic indoctrination young children received outside the home (the better to weed out the un-American traits of immigrants).  One of the core tenets of the early kindergartens was the dogma that "the government is the true parent of the children, the state is sovereign over the family."  The progressive followers of John Dewey expanded this program to make public schools incubators of a national religion.  They discarded the militaristic rigidity of the Prussian model, but retained the aim of indoctrinating children.  The methods were informal, couched in the sincere desire to make learning "fun," "relevant," and "empowering."  The self-esteem obsession that saturates our schools today harks back to the Deweyan reforms from before World War II.  But beneath the individualist rhetoric lies a mission for democratic social justice, a mission Dewey himself defined as a religion.  For other progressives, capturing children in schools was part of the larger effort to break the backbone of the nuclear family, the institution most resistant to political indoctrination. -- Jonah Goldberg, "Liberal Fascism", pp. 326-327

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Nightmare of the Crucifixion

I read a piece of literature yesterday that described the crucifixion of Jesus as "the recurring nightmare of the church".  To reference it further or to quote it in context wouldn't make sense.  But I thought it was a brilliant, evocative image.  The cross is the ultimate nightmare, one that we rehearse over and over again - in our memories, in our deeds, in our words, and in our worship.  Imagine the worst possible thing happening to a person, and that is what stands at the center of our worship.  A man who, unlike us, truly deserves having no ill done to him.  Truly innocent of sin, and positively righteous in all he is and does.  Chased down by monsters and brutally killed, as in a horror story - the Psalms picture this repeatedly.  Like all good horror stories, absolute good exists, and wins in the end.  But this doesn't change the fact that the nightmare really is a nightmare, the horror story really is a horror story.

To worship God is to willingly descend again and again into sleep, knowing the nightmare awaits us.  Serving Christ entails being pursued by monsters.  To live in Christ is to participate in His nightmare, all the while knowing also that one day the nightmare will end for good, when we awake to sleep no more. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Should We Favor Israel?

"For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God." Romans 2:25-29. As taught here by Paul, as well as elsewhere in the New Testament, God is no longer working with the Jewish people as a people distinct from the Gentiles. Jew and Gentile have been brought together and made one new man - new, in contrast with the old, that is, the Old Covenant (Eph. 2 & 3). To think then that anybody, any politician, or any nation, should favor a country that today calls itself "Israel" (the real Israel having ceased to exist two thousand years ago), over any other nation, Christian or otherwise, is contrary to what is taught in the New Testament. In addition, how any Christian could support the idea of Jewish people returning to the ceremonies of the Old Covenant, in light of the clear teaching of the Book of Hebrews, is baffling to me. As Hebrews makes it clear, any person, of Jewish descent or otherwise, who turns back to those ceremonies, is denying Christ.