Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wendell Berry on Abundant Life

“In an age of materialist science, economics, art, and politics, we ought not to be much shocked by the appearance of materialist religion. We know we don’t have to look far to find people who equate more abundant life with a bigger car, a bigger house, a bigger bank account, and a bigger church. . . . Abundance, in this verse (John 10:10), cannot refer to an abundance of material possessions, for life does not require a material abundance: it requires only a material sufficiency. . . . Jesus is not proposing to free us by making us richer; he is . . . talking about life. . . . The way to more abundant life is the way of love. We are to love one another, and this love is to be more comprehensive than our love for family and friends and tribe and nation. We are to love our neighbors . . . we are to love our enemies. And this love is to be a practical love; it is to be practiced . . . . To be free of the insane rationalizations for our desire to kill one another – that surely would be to have life more abundantly.” -- Wendell Berry, The Burden of the Gospels (2005)

Monday, August 2, 2010

A narrow fellow . . . on the flower

Sunday morning I found this baby snake curled around a zinnia in the front yard. (Jeremy took the picture.) I was reminded of the Emily Dickinson poem, although this encounter seemed a bit more benign.

Rock City and Wendell Berry

A few weeks ago, we went back to DeSoto State Park near Fort Payne, AL, having gone there last spring and thoroughly enjoying the canyons and trails. This year there weren't as many waterfalls or flowers since it was later in the year, but it was still relaxing. We stayed there and took a day trip to Chattanooga (less than an hour away) to visit the Tennessee Aquarium and Rock City. Naomi loved Rock City. Although I will admit parts of it were a bit kitschy, it was a beautiful stroll. We went early in the morning to avoid crowds, and it was raining lightly for much of the trip, but that just made things seem more ethereal. Along the trails there were signs displaying quotations from various naturalists and conservationists, among them Wendell Berry (although they spelled his name wrong): "We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent questions of the time: how much is enough?" Indeed, our culture is much more focused on excess than on limits. Growing a garden forces us to concentrate on simple questions: how much do I really need? How much is too much for me to handle? What if we asked these questions about everything? I think our society would look very different.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excellent article on the oil spill

Gulf Oil Spill: a Hole in the World
by Naomi Klein

"This Gulf coast crisis is about many things--corruption, deregulation, addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it's about this: our culture's excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Berry Smoothie

-1 cup blackberries, blueberries, or both
-1/2 cup plain yogurt
-1/2 cup milk
-1/4 cup honey
-handful of ice

Mix in blender and enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

corn, corn, and more corn

Last Monday we picked, shucked, scrubbed, blanched, scraped and froze a truckload (about 600 ears) of corn. (Jeremy grew it on a generous friend's land, not on our 1/4 acre.)
I'm trying to find new creative uses for it. On Sunday I made creamed corn pancakes, altering the recipe a little since the creamed corn was extra juicy. It was about a cup and a half of fresh creamed corn, 1 egg, 3/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp each baking soda, salt, and sugar. They turned out pretty well, especially covered in local honey!

Tonight's Supper

Homemade pizza on my new pizza stone
Toppings from our garden:
-Tomato sauce (peeled and pureed tomatoes cooked down to thicken with a pinch of sugar and salt)
-yellow squash
-purple onions
-cherry tomato halves
-red bell pepper
-purple basil leaves
From the store:
-flour, olive oil, and yeast for homemade crust
-mozzarella cheese
The crust rose well this time and turned out perfect baked on the stone.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Decades of Heinrich Bullinger

Heinrich Bullinger, one of the great Swiss reformers of the sixteenth century, has been identified as one of the most influential, and yet forgotten, figures of the Protestant Reformation. After Zwingli’s 1531 death on the battlefield of Kappel, Bullinger accepted, as successor, the head ministerial position of Zurich, and there, was pastor until his 1575 death. He was the principle author of the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith, 1566. One of his greatest and widely distributed works was the Decades, a collection of five volumes, each volume containing ten sermons. Peter Opitz, wrote the following in “Bullinger’s Decades: Instruction in Faith and Conduct”:

“[F]rom the second half of the sixteenth century until well into the seventeenth century the Decades were one of the best-known theological works, performing a crucial role in the spread of the Reformed faith throughout Europe and beyond. . . . [It] became a familiar resource for countless Reformed preachers in preparation of their sermons. The book was also considered an essential possession for Reformed households . . . termed a ‘housebook’ (Hausbuch) to be read in homes by families for instruction in piety and Christian conduct.”

After impatiently waiting several years (it’s a rather pricey set), now a copy of Bullinger’s “housebook” has been added to my library. My wonderful wife bought me a copy for my birthday. Until now I would read bits and pieces of the work on googlebooks. One of the only irritating things about the set published by The Parker Society is the Table of Contents. It reads: “The First Sermon”, “The Second Sermon”, etc., without including the subject of the sermon. Perhaps that was the method also of the original publisher. So, for my own convenience I wrote the following catalogue of the complete sermon titles. Maybe it will helpful to you as well.

First Decade
Preface – 3
Of the four General Synods or Councils -- 12
Sermon One: Of the Word of God; the cause of it; and how, and by whom, it was revealed to the world -- 36
Sermon Two: Of the Word of God; to whom, and to what end, it was revealed; also in what manner it is to be heard; and that it doth fully teach the whole doctrine of Godliness -- 57
Sermon Three: Of the sense and right exposition of the Word of God, and by what manner of means it may be expounded -- 70
Sermon Four: Of true faith; from whence it cometh; that it is an assured belief of the mind, whose only stay is upon God and His Word -- 81
Sermon Five: That there is one only true faith, and what the virtue thereof is -- 97
Sermon Six: That the faithful are justified by faith without the Law and works -- 104
Sermon Seven: Of the first articles of the Christian faith contained in the Apostles ’ Creed -- 122
Sermon Eight: Of the latter articles of Christian faith contained in the Apostles ’ Creed -- 140
Sermon Nine: Of the latter articles of Christian faith contained in the Apostles ’ Creed -- 157
Sermon Ten: Of the love of God and our neighbor -- 180

Second Decade
Sermon One: Of laws, and of the law of nature, then of the laws of men -- 193
Sermon Two: Of God’s law, and of the two first commandments of the first table -- 209
Sermon Three: Of the third precept of the Ten Commandments, and of swearing -- 237
Sermon Four: Of the fourth precept of the first table, that is, of the order and keeping of the Sabbath-day -- 253
Sermon Five: Of the first precept of the second table, which is in order the fifth of the Ten Commandments, touching the honour due to parents -- 267
Sermon Six: Of the second precept of the second table, which is in order the sixth of the Ten Commandments, thou shalt not kill; and of the magistrate -- 298
Sermon Seven: Of the office of the magistrate, whether the care of religion appertain to him or no, and whether he may make laws and ordinances in cases of religion -- 323
Sermon Eight: Of judgment, and the office of the judge; that Christians are not forbidden to judge: of revengement and punishment: whether it be lawful for a magistrate to kill the guilty; wherefore, when, how and what the magistrate must punish: whether he may punish offenders in religion or no -- 345
Sermon Nine: Of war; whether it be lawful for a magistrate to make war. What the Scripture teacheth touching war. Whether a Christian man may bear the office of a magistrate. And of the duty of subjects -- 370
Sermon Ten: Of the third precept of the second table, which is in order the seventh of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not commit adultery of wedlock, against all intemperance; of continency -- 393

Third Decade
Dedication to Edward VI -- 3
Sermon One: Of the fourth precept of the second table, which is in order the eighth of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not steal. Of the owning and possessing of proper goods, and of the right and lawful getting of the same; against sundry kinds of theft -- 17
Sermon Two: Of the lawful use of earthly goods; that is, how we may righty possess and lawfully spend, the wealth that is rightly and justly gotten: of restitution, and alms-deeds -- 48
Sermon Three: Of the patient bearing and abiding of sundry calamities and miseries: and also of the hope and manifold consolation of the faithful -- 64
Sermon Four: Of the fifth and sixth precepts of the second table, which is in order the ninth and tenth of the Ten Commandments, that is, thou shalt not speak false witness against thy neighbour; and thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, &c. -- 111
Sermon Five: Of the Ceremonial Law of God, but especially of the priesthood, time, and place, appointed for the ceremonies -- 125
Sermon Six: Of the Sacraments of the Jews; of their sundry sorts of sacrifices, and certain other things pertaining to their Ceremonial Law -- 167
Sermon Seven: Of the Judicial Laws of God -- 217
Sermon Eight: Of the use or effect of the Law of God, and of the fulfilling and abrogating of the same: of the likeness and difference of the Testaments and people, the old and the new -- 236
Sermon Nine: Of Christian liberty, and of offences. Of good works, and the reward thereof -- 300
Sermon Ten: Of sin, and of the kinds thereof; to wit of original and actual sin, and of sin against the Holy Ghost: and lastly, of the most certain and just punishment of sins -- 358

Fourth Decade
Sermon One: Of the Gospel of the Grace of God, who hath given His son unto the world, and in Him all things necessary to salvation, that we, believing in Him, might obtain eternal life -- 1
Sermon Two: Of repentance, and the causes thereof; of confession, and remission of sins; of the old and new man; of the power or strength of men, and the other things pertaining to repentance – 55
Dedication to Edward VI -- 115
Sermon Three: Of God; of the true knowledge of God; and of the diverse ways to know Him; that God is one in substance, and three in persons -- 123
Sermon Four: That God is the Creator of all things, and governeth all things by His Providence: where mention is also made of the goodwill of God to usward, and of predestination -- 173
Sermon Five: Of adoring or worshiping, of invocating or calling upon, and of serving the only, living, true, and everlasting God: also of true and false religion -- 194
Sermon Six: That the Son of God is unspeakably begotten of the Father; that He is consubstantial with the Father, and therefore True God. That the sameself Son is true man; consubstantial with us: and therefore True God and man, abiding in two unconfounded natures, and in one undivided person -- 238
Sermon Seven: Of Christ, king and priest: of His only and everlasting kingdom and priesthood, and of the name of a Christian -- 273
Sermon Eight: Of the Holy Ghost, the third person in the trinity to be worshiped, and of His divine power -- 297
Sermon Nine: Of good and evil spirits; that is, of the holy angels of God, and of devils or evil spirits; and of their operations -- 327
Sermon Ten: Of the reasonable soul of man; and of his most certain salvation after the death of his body -- 365

Fifth Decade
Sermon One: Of the holy catholic church: what it is, how far it extendeth, by what marks it is known, from whence it springeth, how it is maintained and preserved, whether it may err. Also of the power and studies of the church -- 3
Sermon Two: That there is one catholic church: that without the church there is no light or salvation. Against schimatics. Wherefore we depart from the upstart church of Rome. That the church of God is the house, vineyard, and kingdom of God; and the body, sheepfold, and spouse of Christ; a mother and a virgin -- 49
Sermon Three: Of the ministry, and the ministers of God’s Word: wherefore and for what end they are instituted of God. That orders given by Christ unto church in times past were equal. Whence and how the prerogative of ministers sprang, and of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome -- 93
Sermon Four: Of calling unto the ministry of the Word of God. What manner of men, and after what fashion, ministers of the Word must be ordained in the church. Of the keys of the church. What the office of them is that be ordained. Of the manner of teaching the church; and of the holy life of the pastors -- 128
Sermon Five: Of the form and manner how to pray to God; that is of the calling on the name of the lord: where also the Lord’s prayer is expounded; and also singing, thanksgiving, and the force of prayer, is entreated -- 163
Sermon Six: Of signs and the manner of signs; of sacramental signs: what a sacrament is; of whom, for what causes, and how many sacraments were instituted of Christ for the Christian church; of what things they do consist; how these are consecrated; how the sign and the thing are signified in the sacraments are either joined together or distinguished; and of the kind of speeches used in the sacraments -- 226
Sermon Seven: That we must reason reverently of sacraments; that they do not give grace, neither have grace included in them. Again, what the virtue and lawful end and use of sacraments is. That they are not superfluous to the faithful; and that they do not depend upon the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister -- 293
Sermon Eight: Of holy baptism; what it is; by whom, and when it was instituted, and that there is but one baptism of water. Of the baptism of fire. Of the rite or ceremony of baptism; how, of whom, and by whom it must be ministered. Of baptism by midwives; and of infants dying without baptism. Of the baptism of infants. Against Anabaptism or re-baptizing; and of the power or efficacy of baptism -- 351
Sermon Nine: Of the Lord’s supper; what it is, by whom, when, and for whom it was instituted; after what sort, when, and how oft it is to be celebrated, and of the ends thereof. Of the true meaning of the words of the supper. “this is my body.” Of the presence of Christ in the supper. Of the true eating of Christ’s body. Of the worthy and unworthy eaters thereof: and how every man ought to prepare himself unto the Lord’s supper -- 401
Sermon Ten: Of certain institutions of the church of God. Of schools. Of ecclesiastical goods and the use and abuse of the same. Of churches and holy instruments of Christians. Of the admonition and correction of the ministers of the church, and of the whole church. Of matrimony. Of widows. Of virgins. Of monks. What the church of Christ determineth concerning the sick; and of funerals and burials -- 480

Footnote: Peter Opitz’s “Bullinger’s Decades: Instruction in Faith and Conduct” is the third essay of the 2004 work Architect of Reformation: An Introduction to Heinrich Bullinger, 1504-1575, edited by Bruce Gordon and Emidio Campi.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dabney on Calling

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Cor. 10:31

". . . the only condition of discipleship permitted by Christ to any believer is complete self-consecration to his' service. In this the self-devotion of the minister is just the same as that of all other true Christians. If a Christian man proposes to be a teacher, physician, lawyer, mechanic, or farmer, it must be, not chiefly from promptings of the world or self, but chiefly because he verily believes he can, in that calling, best serve his heavenly Master. If he hath not this consecration, we do not say he is unfit for the ministry only, he is unfit to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. If any man think this standard of dedication too strict, let him understand at once that he is " not fit for the kingdom of God;" let him relinquish his delusive hope of salvation; let him at once go back among the dark company of Christ's enemies, on the ground scathed and riven by the lightnings of his wrath, and under the mountainous load of all his sins unatoned and unforgiven. There is no other condition of salvation. For did not Christ redeem the whole man ? Did he not purchase with his blood all our powers, and our whole energies, if we are his disciples? We profess to desire to love him with our whole souls, and therefore what reason is there which demands a part of the exertion and service in our power which does not also demand the whole?"
Dabney, Robert L., Discussions, Vol. III, What is a call to the ministry? (1891)