Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I recently finished Richard Mouw's Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, which is his approachable apology for Calvinist theology. As a Calvinist who is only beginning to learn the theology and history of this tradition, I found the book to be a helpful summary of how Mouw allows this tradition to shape his thinking and his life.
The only part of the book which really changed my thinking was his emphasis on "Heidelberg One" as the starting point for understanding Calvinism. His argument is that a person's acknowledgement that they are utterly dependent on God for all good is the central element of Calvinism, and that the doctrines of the Cannons of Dordt, while a defining element of Calvinist theology, are less widely applicable to our lives.
My only disappointment with the book was Mouw's sometimes overly apologetic tone. He seems to recognize that Calvinism is somewhat unpopular, and spends a lot of time acknowledging and dealing with the difficulties that people have. While this is helpful, he spends less time explaining the positive aspects of this theology – the freedom that results from recognizing God's ultimate sovereignty. Overall, however, the book was a very easy read, and does a good job of explaining the importance of Calvinist theology for his own life (and presumably his readers' lives).
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Christians aver that a butterfly never seen by human eyes nevertheless has the end to glorify its Maker, providing God with a small dosis of enjoyment as She watches its beautiful wings flutter. (pg 16, Nov 2008)
The statement is simple, but it is probably the most convincing argument I have heard against the standard approach for assigning value to environmental goods. Even if people are not willing to pay money either to visit the butterfly or to simply know that it exists, that does not mean that the butterfly is without value.
Now I have to reconsider my thinking on the environment.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Jimmy Carter is by far the best ex-president the United States has ever had,
and he underscored that again this morning by announcing that Guinea Worm cases
have reached an all-time low. For those of you who have never heard of it,
Guinea Worm is one of the worst parasites you can get. The worms burrow inside
of you, grow to almost three feet long, are incredibly painful, and finally pop
out of the skin and have to be reeled out, inch by inch, over many days. They
are an ancient affliction in tropical countries, but Carter has led an effort to
Today he announces that Guinea Worm is down to 5,000 cases worldwide — mostly in Sudan, Mali and Ghana — and tantalizingly close to eradication. If it is eradicated, it will be only the second ailment, after smallpox, that we’ve been able to eliminate form Earth.
Worldwide cases have already been reduced by 99.7 percent, and Carter’s work
has truly transformed those villages where the worm used to be endemic. He shows
that these are battles we can win.
That is great news and truly did give me hope about the ability for human beings to work together for the good of this planet (Does that hope wax and wane for you as much as it does for me?). To be honest, though, the reason I went to that article was because the blurb about it on the front of nytimes.com was: "Jimmy Carter's efforts to eradicate a tropical parasite should set an example for future former presidents." I truly expected to see Jimmy Carter holding a gun on Robert Mugabe (Apparently I've been reading too much from The Onion). Oh well...maybe that can be George Bush's good deed as a former president.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
"I had rather see coming toward me a whole regiment with drawn swords, than one lone Calvinist convinced that he is doing the will of God."
Nicholas Wolterstorff, in the first chapter of Until Justice and Peace Embrace, quotes an unnamed "seventeenth-century English writer," as having written this, but does not name the author. Does anyone know who wrote this?