You cannot be more righteous than God

The student loan thing is sweeping the social media again. My position has changed. Once upon a time, I was a big fan of personal responsibility, making your own way. It’s the American Dream, I thought.

But something has since occurred to me. God decreed that in Ancient Israel, all debts were to be forgiven on a regular basis.

Now, most of the calls I see to forgive student loans seem to be coming from socialists. I do not want them to implement their plans because I am certain they are trojan horses. And I, personally, am extremely uninterested in mass-starvation, gulags, and the like.

But the counter-arguments I see on offer are “I paid my loans,” or, “I made wise decisions and went to trade school.”

May God richly reward your diligence and wisdom. But if forgiveness of another is an offense against you, you are claiming that your justice supersedes that of the Most High.

If you claim to be more just than the Most High, you are wrong. Simple as.

There is some complaint that Caesar may take more of his denarii from our pockets to pay for the debts. And I agree this is unjust. My suspicion is that the loans can be rightly declared usurious and the degrees fraudulent, and the schools and banks that issued them should be made to pay rather than the taxpayer.

And I imagine some argument against forgiveness might be mounted on an esoteric economic basis. It might even be right.

I cannot become an expert in all things. I do not have the time to study economics enough to change my opinion to the economically correct one, or to mount a real defense of my opinion. I have barely enough brainpower to learn the crafts of writing, drawing, and game programming.

Where my expertise fails, I can be confident of one thing: My God, the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, knows all things. Therefore it is unwise to take a position contrary to His. And while His position is definitely not Socialist (“Do not muzzle the ox that treadeth the grain; He who does not work shall not eat”) it is also very much in favor of forgiveness. Or else we’re all doomed, anyway.

Here I stand. I can do no other unless persuaded by Scripture and plain reason. God help me.

Matins

I am not a great poet, but setting words to a meter often helps with their learning.

I lift my eyes to you, in Heav’n enthroned;
Ev’n as a slave looks to his master’s hand
Or maidservant, upon her mistress waits
So, too, our eyes look to YHWH, our God
Until His mercy upon us is shown.

Have mercy on us, oh, YHWH, our King!
Have mercy on us! For we’ve had our fill.
Our soul has had more than enough contempt
The proud’s contempt; the scorn of those at ease

From Psalm 123, my apologies to David

Those who trust in YHWH are like Zion
Which cannot be moved but stands forever
Jerusalem stands ring’d
By mountains of the King
Thus YHWH rings His church now and forever

The scepter of all wickedness shall not rest
Upon the land allotted to the righteous
Lest the righteous stretch
Their hands out to do wrong.
Do good, O YHWH, to the noble-hearted!

But those who turn aside to crooked ways
YHWH will lead away with crooked men.

Peace be upon God’s Church!

From Psalm 125, my apologies to David

If YHWH does not build the house
The builders build the house in vain
If YHWH does not watch the wall
The watchman stays awake in vain
To rise up early in the morn
And labor until late is vain
And eat the bread of anxious toil
For He grants His beloved sleep

Children are a heritage from YHWH.
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Arrows in the hand
Of a fighting man
So are the children of your youth

Happy is the man whose quiver is fill’d
He’ll not be ashaméd at the gate

From Psalm 127, apologies to Solomon

Happy Reformation Day

Come now. I am the most milquetoast of Lutherans. With deep sighing I despair that the church has fragmented so. I get irritated when my Lutheran brethren strive to be more baptist rather than more catholic. I proudly declare I would rather drink blood with the Pope than wine with Zwingli. While the Boomers in my congregation agitate to get guitars and 24/7 songs into the liturgy, I fight for incense and maybe even a smackerel of Latin.

But if I thought Rome was correct, I would join her church.

And if Rome is wrong, ipso facto the defiance of her error is worthy of celebration. Athanasius contra mundum, and all that.

I am not so milquetoast as to apologize for believing that which I think to be true.

Hypostasis

Growing up with an artistic bent, I constantly received two sermons.

  1. Art is just work. Do the work, research the market, get paid. Thinking about muses and inspiration and all that baloney is just the excuses of the lazy and incompetent.
  2. Art is this epic, painful struggle where you pour out your soul, and then have to defy the crass moneylenders who want to change this hallowed thing you have have created.

Neimeier neatly solves the conflict.

The ancient Romans had a saying, Ars longa, vita brevis. Moderns take it to mean that life is short, but works of art last.

We post-Renaissance types get the, “Life is short,” part right. But ancients and Medievals didn’t restrict the meaning of ars to “fine art”. For them, it could apply to any craft.

The equivalent Greek word is techne. That’s a big clue that everybody before the Modern era would have put Michelangelo and Steve Jobs in the same general category. Both made stuff according to a standard.

That’s really what writing is. A carpenter makes a birdhouse by putting wood, nails, and glue together in the right configuration. An author makes a book by doing the same thing with character, setting, and conflict.

Art is craft. Craft is art. That simple.

Ancients and Medievals understood that man is spirit and flesh at once, and thus all of his actions have a spiritual dimension. There is a role for both Martha and Mary. The shoemaker is no less holy than St. Anthony.

Cartesian philosophy, with its crude mind-body dualism, caused a rupture between the mystical and the mundane that’s since plagued Western thought. The body perishes, but the soul is immortal, so the soul must take priority.

Christendom has always had a bent towards the Gnostic. John writes against it in his first epistle. And of course, we’ve always called it a heresy from the first, but a heresy wouldn’t last long enough to get a name if it were not easy to slip into.

Especially in Baptist circles, which is very much the heartbeat of the American religious heritage. Part of the impetus in claiming Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are mere symbols is the very wrong instinct that God wouldn’t act using crude matter.

Entangled minds and the evidence for your psychic ...

But He does. He always has. E=MC² tells us even luminous beings are crude matter. God was up to His elbows in the material world from the instant He said “Let there be light.”

Conversely, physical acts like kneeling, breathing, speaking, are at once also spiritual acts.

This is one of the unique points of Christian theology.

C.S. Lewis held that religions tend to fall into two camps. You either deny yourself, take up your cross and reject the material world. Or you embrace the material world. You slaughter a bull to the gods and feast on its flesh, and then sleep with a ritual prostitute, or else you practice austere self-discipline. Christianity is a middle way. No! It is a both way. It is an incarnational way. A hypostatic way.

To worship the Muse, to agonize for her embrace, this is a Gnostic thing. We are not gnostics.

To reject the Muse, to subject goodness, truth and beauty, this is a materialist thing. We are not materialists.

Artistic integrity, as it turns out, is nothing more or less than when a carpenter has an opportunity to lay down a sloppy floor in a corner or a closet, and save a few minutes or a few dollars, but chooses to do it right, right down to the bones of the house, because he is a carpenter and that is his job.

We are artists with skin in the game. We are craftsmen with soul in the game.


Here’s the head of an epic tweet thread discussing the creation of Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure how this accords with my philosophy. It’s a necessary data point, however.

Vocation Specific

God has graciously placed me in a position where I can focus on my art if I choose. It may be better for me to go get a job and help pay the bills, but if I want, I can work on and off as a farmhand, and try to make money as an artist in the mean time, and my family will live in relative poverty, but not badly for all that.

And yet, if I got a job, if I went through Lamda School, things could be so much better for my family. A little bit of that distress of decision making is showing through in my apathy towards 3D, my trying to pick a project, and so forth.

As I wrestle with the decision of what is the best thing I can do for those under me, it is good to remember a man’s vocation is not abstract. I am not a father, a husband, a farmhand, and an artist. I am a father to my specific kid, a husband to my specific wife, a farmhand to my brother, and so on.

It’s like my theory of creativity.

Continue reading “Vocation Specific”

How to Fight Back

Allexander Hellene is one of my favorite dudes on the internet, and I endorse everything he’s written in this blog post.

But especially:

Enjoy the battle. This fight will never end. There will be losses, but there will also be victories. Celebrate the wins and keep going. Morale is important, so don’t spread despair. Blackpilling does nobody any good.

One of the things I enjoy (yes! enjoy!) about living in Corona times is that it has stripped away the illusion that we do not live in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I came to terms with this reality a year or two ago, and it sucks to realize that this world will always be a battlefield and Satan will have the upper hand more and more right up to the moment that Christ comes back…

But once you embrace it, it’s freeing. You start to put your hope in the world to come. You start to really understand how trivial and light is death.

It’s the paradox of Ecclesiastes. Everything is dust in the wind. But once you realize you’re building castles out of soap bubbles, the proper joy of building castles out of soap bubbles is revealed.

When you cannot win, you are free to do as you like. When you cannot lose, you are free to do as you like. And the Christian gets to live under both of these realities at once. This is how the martyrs go singing to their own executions. And when we win (and we have won from time to time), it is how we win.

Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles

I recently ran across a take by C.S. Lewis on eschatology. His concept of the end times is that the point of end times passages is not so that we can play Pin the Tail on the Antichrist, but to put our actions in perspective. Christ might return in a thousand years. We’d better make long-term plans and brace ourselves for the long haul. Christ might return tomorrow. We’d better not neglect our neighbor today.

His point was that it is good to plant oaks in whose shade you will never rest. But if you prioritize the long game to the point of actively harming those around you, and Christ decides to end the show tomorrow, that would be pretty embarrassing, wouldn’t it?

Lewis was writing before Eugenics was a dirty word. When everyone thought “if we only let science do whatever it wishes, we shall cure death and suffering in a few years,” instead of having the general distrust for boffins in white coats which the technocrats have earned for themselves in the intervening years. At the time, the idea of breaking a few eggs to make a civilizational omelette was in vogue in a way it isn’t now (though sadly, as a culture, we’ve rejected it not because it is wrong, but because of the teh feelz).

His take, however, ties in quite well to thoughts I’ve been entertaining of late.

Continue reading “Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles”

A Brief History of My Faith

I mentioned once on Twitter that I am a conversion risk to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, but I hesitate because I am convinced of Sola Scriptura.

My Catholic brethren did not hesitate to offer up many arguments against Sola Scriptura that, while interesting, have no use against what I believe. I have refrained, so far, from offering a vigorous answer to their arguments because it would take a lot of time and effort.

In fact, in my drafts folder are two long, meandering blog posts attempting to do just that. This is my third attempt.

Let me explain where I am coming from, and perhaps you will see why each time you act on your God-given mandate to preach the truth, instead of converting or else rebutting, I merely shake my head and move on.

Continue reading “A Brief History of My Faith”

Some Proverbs

Another post harvested from an old blog. These proverbs seemed oddly loud to me back then, and they sing out still…

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh[b]
and refreshment[c] to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

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