Volume 10, Issue 1: Sharpening Iron
Just as we were going to the printer, I noticed that this issue begins the tenth year of Credenda's existence. With foaming zeal, I ran into the edtior's office to bestow my enlightenment upon him, asking if he wanted to party or set something on fire. He stared blankly at me. "Huh?" But he doesn't do that with important anniversaries. Now about the cover. Let us explain. Yes, it's supposed to be cheap and goofy. It's pure, modern evangelical. That's the point. Take a look at both the front and the back images and compare them. The front is supposed to remind you of the pervasive and frightening "Precious Moments" kitsch, a devolution from more ecclesiastical, less consumerist handling of Scripture pictured on the back—the theme of this issue. So if we get any letters on this, it isn't our fault.
Douglas Wilson should leave the philosophical analysis of sports to Mr. Jones. It seems quite obvious that baseball has more qualities than the PPR's to inculcate the virtues of patience, humility and persistence. The lonely and embarrassing walk back to the dugout after striking out is one example among many which the other major sports just can't duplicate.
Douglas Wilson replies:
. . . except for the field goal kicker who just shanked one.
NOT PAID TO SAY THIS
Can't y'all work any harder and faster? I want another issue! I'm going through withdrawal since I can't get enough of my intellectual drug from Moscow. Hurry. Feed me. Save me. I'm wilting away for lack of Credenda. Send my next issue FEDEX SAME DAY.
Gasping for more,
What timing! Your Beowulf issue came out just as my Brit. Lit. honors students and I were beginning to delve into it. Thanks for a great issue that got us all talking.
LUTHER WANTS BEOWULF
Here's a quote you could have used for your Credenda/Agenda issue, The Legacy of Beowulf: Poetry and the Anglo-Saxon Mind: "How I regret now that I did not read more poets and historians, and that no one taught me them!" Martin Luther, "To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish Christian Schools," written in 1524.
I was going to include some smart-aleck comment about how I don't give a crap about Beowolf (or however it's spelled) and that three-fourths of your magazine is irrelevant and uninteresting to most Christians, blah, blah, blah. . . But in fact I keep sending you money which says something doesn't it?
If you were more poetic, you wouldn't have to resort to potty talk.
Douglas Jones's consternation over his deficiency in church picnic coordination ability appears to have impacted his typically sound reasoning skills. His "Romantic Conspiracies" (Anvil, vol. 9, no. 4) was disappointing.
Jones could just as well have started out the piece by saying, "Anyone who has ever been on a committee should have a hard time believing in the reality of AT&T's multi-billion dollar global operations." You see, Jones proves too much. His committee/depravity argument not only denies the feasibility of "widespread conspiracies," but large-scale or complex cooperative action generally. Moreover, it calls for us to "scoff" at the scholarship of the likes of James Billington, Samuel Blumenfeld, Carroll Quigley, Otto Scott and others, who apparently are "romantics in the worst sense of the word."
The picnic committee argument (paragraph 3) is easily dismissed with a reductio. The depravity argument (paragraph 4) is also weak, as it partially rests on the fabricated requisites of "selflessness" and "denying personal glory for decades" by pagans, which are not requisites at all (helpful as they would be to his argument). Moreover, his conclusion is not a proper extension from man's depravity (cf. Gen. 11:5,6). Although the straw men examples in paragraph 2 may seem fantastic, that history is personal, containing events orchestrated even by pagans acting in concert to achieve their purposes, should not be such an odd idea to a Christian.
As this is the first time a Credenda editor has been mistaken, I thought it would be proper to bring it to your attention.
Thanks for your magazine! I had a number of issues waiting for me when I returned from home service in the USA and have spent many very enjoyable hours getting caught up. But one article has prompted me to write in critique.
There is much to appreciate in Patch Blakey's piece, "Biblical Prophecy and Western Culture," especially his concise analysis of Daniel's prophecy of coming empires. But his failure to define "Western culture" leaves one wondering to which Western culture he is referring. Constantine's? Napoleon's? Hitler's? Hollywood's?
Patch's smug assumptions about the "Christianness" of Western culture, unwarranted (postmillennial?) optimism about the direction of history's flow, and apparent ignorance of the accomplishments of God's Spirit and people in leavening non-Western cultures, must leave him with an extremely arrogant and paternalistic missiology. Abraham Kuyper makes a similar mistake in his Stone Lectures when he pronounces his blessing on South Africa's apartheid!
Granted, Western cultures have many desirable features (especially for Westerners!) and Christian trappings. But when all is said and done, we still have nothing more than the city of man in antithesis to the kingdom of God. And in most Western, developed countries, the darkness is gaining, not waning. How boring it would be if the Christianization of Asia would mean its Westernization. God has better things in mind for His Son's bride!
Forty-five years have passed since my baptism at age 12. I am, however, just recently taking a serious interest in my salvation through Jesus Christ and am now in a near state of panic as I try to determine who has it right within the Christian community. I thought I had at least one thing down, which is (was) my conviction that the AV was the Bible to use, having always rejected out-of-hand the more "recent," trendy versions. Unfortunately, in your article A Church Bible, you have burst that single bubble of mine: Since the "recent" translations are garbage, and if Glassy-Eyed King James defenders should be repudiated, then what Bible do you suggest? I suspect that something in your piece has slipped by me. . . .
I very much enjoy your C/A publication even though it is often beyond my ken. But as I learn more, that should take care of itself.
We approve of the AV (see this issue). We have a harder time approving of all its defenders.
I enjoyed "A Church Bible" by Douglas Wilson and heartily applaud its general thrust. However, I am perplexed by the assertion that "the portion of the Church involved with the recovery of the Bible should repudiate, in the strongest possible terms, the Glassy-Eyed Defenders of the King James Version, who are very popular in fundamentalist circles. Such know-nothingism has been one of the principle reasons why the Bible-mongers have been able to get away with rejecting the ecclesiastical text without any serious argument." I fail to see how the "Defenders" beliefs have been one of the "principle" reasons for the rejection of an ecclesiastical text occurring without serious opposition. They are, for the most part, ignored by the sleepy evangelical world, or simply viewed as a curiosity. . . . If we are honest, it seems more plausible that we must point the finger at ourselves, to us of the Reformed ilk, as one of the "principle" reasons for the continued rejection of the ecclesiastical text, since we have not vigorously opposed the tragic handling of the Biblical text. . . .
OFFENDED TO THE MAX
I was shocked, appalled, and distressed (OK, my feelings were hurt) when I opened up my last issue and discovered the results of a survey of readers in which I was not included.
Furthermore, within the week I received a survey, a sincere request for my opinion, from Christianity Today, along with a one-dollar bill to compensate me for my valuable input. Yes, I subscribe to both your magazine and theirs, and I began to wrestle with the issue of how to handle your gross oversight in failing to include me in your survey when CT pays me in advance to complete theirs. Do you stand by your advice (Anvil, 9:4, p.10) to not wrestle with the issue, but just beat you up? (Not being a feminist, I'd submissively appeal to my husband to do it on my behalf.) . . .
Since I was not allowed to participate in answering your survey questions, I'd like to ask you some questions.
Who designed the sampling on your survey, anyway? Does "Societas Resource Group" sound evanliberal or what?
Why do you guys persist in using the construction "most everyone" (p.40), when nearly everyone knows it is colloquial to the max? What about the 0.01% of us grammarhead readers who find that offensive?
If the other two postmillennialist readers (those who actually got to complete the survey) give as moderately to your magazine as I do, and we are the biggest givers, are you considering a Kenneth Copeland seminar after all?
Finally, would an exhaustively sovereign God really allow you guys to sit around having this much fun writing a magazine instead of working at real jobs?
Since you didn't send me a survey or a dollar, send popcorn.
Getting over it,
Beverly D. Brown
CREDENDA'S IMMENSE POWER
My husband is a faithful reader of your magazine, but I have never seen much use in wasting my time with it until today. We were having our morning devotional together, and my husband used your poetry issue not once, not twice, but three times thus opening my eyes to the usefulness of your material! Within ten minutes he used it to swat two mosquitoes and one cricket. After pointing out to him my "revelation" he at least agreed that it was the best use for poetry he had ever witnessed.
. . . . I must weigh in with my agreement on the side of that esteemed student of culture and ethics—Bubba Jones. His argumentation on the moral and aesthetic superiority of baseball seems airtight and historically precise to me. (Now my appetite is whetted to see the eight arguments and six counterarguments). However, I think he failed to note some of the obvious reasons why any well-meaning, Reformed, astute observer would also love the fabled sport.
Basketball and football have been subsumed under "one world government" (i.e., the monolithic NFL and the collaborative NBA). On the other hand, baseball has retained the Van Tilian antithesis between the godless, Designated-Hitter-introducing, spirit of the age, innovative/tradition despisers of the American league (or as they are known at our house, "the junior circuit") and the God-fearing, nonmovers of ancient landmarks, National Leaguers. . . .
Baseball is "Edenic." It is played in a peaceful, grassy setting, and the players partake of God's natural bounty (i.e., the lovely leaf of the tobacco plant). In fact, I saw Henry Aaron and Willie Mays (both sanctified National Leaguers) sharing a smoke on the bench at the 1969 All-Star game (now that's true fellowship).
As to [Wilson's] scofflaw comment on the Hindu nature of the game, obviously that great Augustinian thinker George Carlin eloquently pointed out the "domestic" nature of the game. . . . In baseball, the object of the game is to "Go Home." I would think that someone who has written so extensively on the priority and sanctity of the home would have recognized that baseball is intricately tied up with the creation ordinance of the home. . . .
Las Vegas, NV
LOVE THOSE STORIES
I was thinking that it's about time I got another Credenda. At first I thought I was the victim of a computer mailout glitch, but then I found my husband had hidden away "Beowulf." Maybe he thought it was too manly for me! I also found your plea for money, so I thought its about time we contributed for a couple of hours of real entertainment in every issue. I don't know if anyone else praises articles such as "Lawn Leeches" by Doug Jones, but I thoroughly enjoy his bizarre . . . humor? Looking forward to my next issue,
TIME TO SPARE IN ARKANSAS
In the editorial on "The Break-up of the United States," the following appeared: "But it must be remembered that an economic crash does not destroy wealth; it simply rearranges wealth on a massive scale." I beg to differ.
First, an economic crash is a monetary affair. (Mises, Human Action, ch. 20.) Money is the central economic institution. Bad monetary policy misleads entrepreneurs by distorting the true conditions of supply and demand. The reason why the subsequent failure is general is that the signals were given by a money system that had been manipulated. Second, the division of labor is the basis of our wealth. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, ch. 1: the story of the pin-makers.) Third, the crash comes after inflation has created an overdeveloped division of labor. Or: after massive indebtedness has created a new level of prices and obligations. (One New York investment bank has $4.5 billion in capital, $77 billion in assets, and $1.9 trillion in derivatives it has written. It is not alone.) Fourth, when the division of labor shrinks, whole segments of the economy will be forced into unemployment. We all lose that productivity. Fifth, in an information economy, the loss of information makes almost everyone poorer. Analogy: the value of your telephone if most telephones were disconnected. Sixth, tens of millions of phones may well be disconnected in 2000. All over the world. Seventh, if the banks go down, the division of labor will contract because the banks supply the means of payment. Wealth will be lost, not merely transferred. Eighth, if the means of payment (money) is destroyed, especially by deflation, contracts will no longer be enforceable. The courts will jam up with property rights claims. Without enforceable contracts, the free market will suffer a major setback. It will contract. So will our wealth. The loss of information and the loss of reliable contracts—the rule of law—are not merely redistributive. They are enormously destructive. If people cannot pay for goods with money, what happens to them? If their services are no longer valuable in a world with a reduced division of labor, they must either learn to offer new services or die. The greater the loss of information, the greater the loss of productivity. It is not that one person gains information while the other loses it. All people lose it. Don't live in Los Angeles when the banks go down.
MAKING BARROW ENTERTAINING
Thank you for the entertaining and informative paper. You have even managed to make Still Water's Revival Book catalogue an entertaining periodical. Reading Barrow, describing his own writings in glowing terms, I just can't lay it down.
One suggestion: you should make a cartoon section in the Cave of Adullam.
Andrew Calvin Viersen