Archive for December, 2007

A belated Christmas Carol

Posted in Christianity, music with tags , , , on December 28, 2007 by Robaigh

Here’s a video of one of my favorite artists (Tim Eriksen) performing a little-known carol. The sound quality leaves something to be desired, but you can still get a sense of how beautiful this song is.  If you want a cleaner sounding version, I’d strongly recommend his CD Every Sound Below.

Tim’s is a modified version of Samuel Worcester’s Hymn #12 “Pilgrim.” A quick Google search on the first line of the song will take you to Worcester’s book Hymns Selected from Various Authors, 1835. You can purchase the bound version from ABE Books here.

O Sight of Anguish! View it near—
What weeping innocence is here–
A manger for his bed!
The brutes yield refuge to his woe—
Men, worse than brutes, no pity show,
Nor give him friendly aid!

Why do no rapid thunders roll?
Why do not tempests rock the pole?
O miracle of grace!
Or why no angels on the wing
Warm for the honour of their King,
To punish all the race!

Though now an INFANT bath’d in tears,
He call’d to form the rolling spheres:
And Seraphs own’d his nod!
Helpless he calls, but men delay:–
Ungrateful sinners disobey
The first-born Son of God!

Say, radiant Seraphs thron’d in light,
Did love e’er tower so high of flight?—
Or glory sink so low?
This wonder angels scarce declare;
Angels the rapture scarce can bear,
Or equal praise bestow.

Redemption! ‘Tis a boundless theme;
Thou boundless Mind our hearts enflame
With ardour from above:
Words are but faint, let joy express—
Vain is mere joy – let actions bless—
This prodigy of love.

It tastes a bit like caca. It’s tradition!

Posted in Counter-culture, Humor, Identity on December 22, 2007 by Robaigh

2 Things:

Thing 1:  I stem from Scots ancestry, but I shall not be eating any (fookin’) haggis.

Thing 2:  Guinness?!  Don’t get me wrong:  I love the stuff, but you are Scotsmen!  How’s aboot a pint o’ heaveh, lads?

What’s that sound?

Posted in Humor, Identity, Random on December 22, 2007 by Robaigh

Ah, yes!  It’s the unmistakable sound of Charles Shultz spinning (I believe he’s set on “frapee”) in his grave.  With “thanks” to Denis Leary.  (This is wrong on so many levels.)

OK, now I’m on a MacGowan kick

Posted in music, Random on December 22, 2007 by Robaigh

This song oscillates between fave and 2nd-fave Pogues song in the world. (“Rainy Night in Soho” is chief competitor.)

If you like the Pogues (or the Popes) and you haven’t seen this tragic, tragic film , do get your hands on it. And if you can find the “making of” version of this (can’t remember what it’s called), let me know. It was one of the most poignant things I’ve ever seen.

I’m sorry.  I HAVE to post this.  It made me wee a bit in me trousers.

Apropos of absolutely…very little

Posted in Coincidence, music, Random with tags , , , , on December 22, 2007 by Robaigh

The Pogues, “If I Should Fall from Grace with God”

If I should fall from grace with God

Posted in Christianity, Identity with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2007 by Robaigh

Last evening I was surfing around some Christian websites and came across a good one.  The question posed on this particular posting centered on eternal assurance of salvation versus the possibility of falling from grace – or rather, the question pertained to whether salvation is conditional.  A good, old question, that.

I posted my thoughts, based on my own limited understanding of the topic at hand, essentially stating that salvation comes via God’s grace, through faith, which itself is a gift from God.  To believe that having faith is a choice implies that the choice derives from our own will, thereby making it a “work.”

Now, this is NOT an attack on the author of that post – not in any way – but I was mildly chastised for basing my response on opinion rather than on scripture.  This was a fair critique, on one hand, because I failed to “show my work,” as it were.

In any case, the author stated his/her counter-case against mine, and cited a number of Biblical verses in favor of his/her position.  Fairly standard approach, which I can certainly appreciate.  There are a couple of problems here, though:  1) People have been arguing this point in the standard format advocated by the post’s author for centuries, and there still doesn’t seem to be an ecumenical answer to the question; and 2)  isolating quotations that favor one opinion over another (proof-texting) is like focusing on several individual trees, thereby missing the grandeur of the forest.  Proof-texting removes verses from their larger context – which works great for making a point, but does violence to the overall message of the Good News.

As a case in point:  the author agreed with me that salvation is God’s gracious gift through faith, but that faith is conditioned by works.  James’ epistle is the one that always seems to come up.  James 2:17-18 states, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ’You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

I will concede that good works are necessary for good discipleship, but not that they are necessary for salvation.  Good works, like the law, puts salvation beyond our grasp.  Let’s say I have 10 bucks in my pocket and I pass a starving man in the street, if I don’t give him my $10, I’m failing to live up to my responsibility to do good works, and therefore I’m doomed, even if I had previously been saved.  Every time I fail to do a good work, I have sinned.  Every hitchhiker I whip by, every stranded motorist that I fail to help, every starving child in Africa that I don’t donate food to “for the price of a cup of coffee” condemns my soul.  Who can live up to that standard!?  The bad news is that NOBODY can live up to that standard, so we must constantly live in fear of our souls.

The good news is that NOBODY can live up to that standard, and God understands this.   The good news is that I can’t buy my way into righteousness.  The Great News is that Jesus has already done all the good works for me.  “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20.)  Out of gratitude for His works on my behalf, I pay the price of a cup o’ coffee in order to help an African child whenever I can, I help the odd stranded motorist, I pick up the occasional hitchhiker, and I do whatever good works I can do whenever I can do them.  It won’t get me into Heaven, but the Good News is that it doesn’t have to.

Amen.

Debunking Christmas…again.

Posted in Christianity, Counter-culture, Identity with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2007 by Robaigh

It’s that time of year again when the “flaky pagans” (as my moderately pagan friend Ericka calls them), the atheists, the recovering Catholics, the Old Light Presbyterians, the Scrooges, and the generally-pissed-off-by-organized-religion folks will drag out the arguments against Christmas. I feel a certain camaraderie with this motley group, having been one of them myself for many years. Nevertheless, in my advancing years, I have begun to see the sense in Christmas.

Yes, I know that celebrating Christmas on December 25th stems from the pagan Solstice festivals. I’ll give you that. On a particularly curmudgeonly day, I might begin to agree with you that the “Catholic” Church (actually the ONLY Church in the West at the time) placed it on the calendar in order to squelch said pagan holiday. But on a normal, only moderately curmudgeonly day I might argue that detail with you, basing my argument on the fact that the timing makes perfect sense, liturgically speaking.

Take a measure of Winter Solstice (the longest, darkest day of the year), add a pinch of Jesus being the “Light of the World,” mix it with a dash of early Jewish celebrations falling at the same time of the year. Bake for a few minutes and you get a rich and meaningful holiday.

But go back to the link I posted a couple days ago, and you’ll see that the result isn’t necessarily a sweet confection; not light and fluffy at all.

Are you as tired as I am of this baking analogy? Good, it was falling flat for me, too.

Back to that article. Here’s a new link to it. The essence of it is that Christmas is kind of the calm before the storm, but that it doesn’t last long. Within a short time, the government tries to kill the infant and winds up succeeding some thirty years later, with the compliance of and at the bequest of the religious. Now THAT’S the kind of debunking that gets me going. Christmas heralds a society-churning, power-opposing revolution. It doesn’t foretell a revolution of nice guys. It ushers in the Kingdom of God, where everything gets turned upside-down, where the poor are blessed, where the meek inherit the earth, where those who have now will lose everything. It’s about Justice. That’ll piss a lot of people off, eh?

Kind of makes me wonder why the generally-pissed-off-at-organized-religion types don’t embrace this time of year.