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Volume 14, Issue 1: Meander

No Matter How Thin You Slice It, It's Still Baloney

Douglas Wilson

As I write this, I am sitting in the Atlanta airport, which is a teeming Yankee ant farm, and despite my thorough going agreement with R.L. Dabney's warnings about the New South, I still have to confess a certain admiration for how efficiently we can shuffle people around the country. I woke up in Idaho, and I shall go to sleep in Florida. And not only are we adept at the macro-shuffle, but we also move people around inside the airports with singular competence and remarkable aplomb. I got off the plane at terminal E, found the train, and then, zip zip, I find myself typing this in terminal A. And the plane isn't even here yet.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, is a remarkable read. The book contains many details about how The Lord of the Rings came to be written, and very helpful directions on how the books should be read. More importantly, the reader comes away understanding how they are not to be read. God is everywhere present in the books, but nowhere mentioned—and this for an important reason. Gandalf is not a wizard in the sense that he is a practitioner in magic arts, but is rather an angelic figure, sent by the Valar, who are also angels. The books are not an allegory, except to the extent that all of life is allegorical.

It is hard to tell if the movie would have been a source of grief and distress to Tolkien. But these letters reveal that he was an exacting author, and was much grieved by bungling translations and radio productions. And so the movie's bungling of Aragorn and Arwen would have been a big deal to Tolkien, even though the visual effects were spectacular.

Let's take a moment to compare and contrast two quintessential American sports—baseball and football. And let us do so with a full appreciation of both, and let debates about the superiority of one over the other deservedly languish. Baseball is a far superior springtime sport and football rules the autumn. Comparing the two competitively is like asking which of the primary colors is the best.
Baseball is a sport in which the defense handles the ball the entire time. In football, the offense handles the ball. Baseball is rhythmic and cyclical and football is linear. Baseball attracts cultural leaders as fans and spectators, while football produces former players who are cultural leaders. Baseball is competitive but essentially peaceful. Football is competitive, violent, and essentially warlike. Baseball traffics in potentialities—something might happen at any time, at any point in the field. Football contains far more predictable events: at prescribed intervals something will happen involving all the players, with the only question involving how big the play is. Baseball has no prescribed length for a game, while football conforms to the clock. The teamwork of baseball is limited to a few players in any given play, while in football the teamwork is engineered for every player every play. And finally, in baseball, the locus of leadership on a team is more fluid and relaxed. In football, leadership is structured into the game, and is placed on the coach and quarterback. There.

We Christians ought to do far more than we have been doing to help bring back widespread consumption of whole milk. The fat is the Lord's. Skim milk looks and tastes like water that somebody cleaned a paintbrush in.

Steve Schlissel has sent along a profound look at the deep world of conspiracy by pointing out that when the letters of the word Presbyterians are rearranged it spells—Britney Spears. "Coincidence?" he asks. "I think not."

Covenant Media Foundation has some valuable material available. One is a small book titled The Destruction of Jerusalem. The book is a very helpful (and comparatively brief) collection of historical details surrounding the first-century destruction of Jerusalem. The first interest of the book is to establish the credentials of the Lord Jesus as a true prophet of God. What He said would come to fulfillment within one generation did come to complete and astonishing fulfillment.
Another item from their catalog that could prove very helpful to us in our post 9-11 era is a tape set on Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Greg Bahnsen represents the Christian faith, and the Muslim on the tape set is the same johnny who participated in the polytheistic worship service at the National Cathedral.

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