Volume 11, Issue 2: Meander
A Blind Cave Fish
Patrick Mitchell has provided us all with a valuable service in his book, The Scandal of Gender. Published by Regina Orthodox Press (1-800-636-2470), the book provides a very helpful compilation of quotations from the early Church fathers on the issue of man and woman. Although a classical Protestant will differ with a few of the stands taken, it was still a delight to read doctrine on this subject that has not been contaminated by the spirit of our age. While some of the fathers had a strange perspective on sexual matters, it is still important to note that they were far more balanced and biblical than modern evangelicals are. Read this book, and then try to name one early Church father who could get a job teaching at Wheaton.
My wife and I recently attended a party where we played a version of a game involving white elephants, and the upshot of the whole thing is that I came home with a volume of poetry written by Jim Morrison, whom you may remember as lead singer for the Doors. If I am not mistaken, he may have started out by singing back-up for Perry Como. Anyhow, his poetry was really, really bad. Not that this surprises anyone, I suppose. Here's one of his poems, reproduced in its entirety: "In the womb we are blind cave fish." That was one of the better ones.
Some of our readers may be aware of a quiet reformation of doctrine that is taking place in charismatic circles. Some churches have gotten tired of having just one oar in the water and are in the process of returning to shore for the other one. A recent book that represents the best kind of thinking associated with this trend is For His Glory by William Farley. Published by Pinnacle Press (1-888-622-4170), the book is a careful and thoughtful look at God's ultimate purpose, and why it matters to the church. Readers who are familiar with John Piper's fine work will be very pleased with this work. I spent a number of months reading small portions of it as preparation for worship on the Lord's Day. Check it out.
An album worth getting is La Musique de la Bible Revelee. Released by Harmonia Mundi, the work is the result of the painstaking work of Suzanne Haik Vantoura. She is a composer who plausibly claims to have deciphered the musical notation contained within ancient manuscripts of the Bible. The album contains the musical reproductions of ancient music-Psalm 123, Deuteronomy 6:4, 2 Samuel 1:19, and more. The result of all this labor really is a blast from the past.
Also released by Harmonia Mundi is an album called Goostly Psalmes. Sung by His Majestie's Clerkes, the result is a glorious compilation of Anglo-American psalms falling between the dates 1550 and 1800. The songs are reproduced here as they would have originally been done, a kind of musical archeology. Canon Press carries this one.
I recently had the delightful experience of reading James Jordan's small book Pig Out? 25 Reasons Why Christians May Eat Pork. Available from Transfiguration Press in Niceville, Florida, the book is a great help in understanding a common problem among Americans-all the bacon eaters included. For a number of reasons, what we call being "health-conscious" actually reveals our hidden (but very pervasive) faith in salvation through ingestion. The assumption is that a man's spiritual state can be helped or hurt through what he puts in his mouth.
The best part of his book was the discussion of William Kellogg, who invented his meatless corn flakes to help reduce the sexual drive. By eating corn flakes, the bestial nature of man could be tamed and less original sin would be passed on to the next generation. Graham flour was invented for the same reason (you know, Graham crackers), and Charles Finney had all the students at Oberlin College put on the Graham diet as part of the war against "vile affections." Apparently no dietary manipulation was able to deal with the Pelagianism there. Maybe they should have tried some Oreos. They actually work.
Under different guises, this problem is very common among us, from the teaching of Bill Gothard, to some Adventist practices, to organic food ideology, to some reconstructionist teaching on "the foods of the law," and much more. This book is a fine antidote, a wonderful literary platter of grilled catfish.
I am writing this the day after President Clinton's State of the Union Address in early 1999. By the time you read this, who knows what all will have happened. But one thing from that speech should remain to haunt us; when faced with a profound constitutional crisis of his own making, his political solution basically amounted to a promise of free chocolate milk for everybody. And about time, our solons nodded.