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Thursday, April 8

CHRIST'S VOLUNTARY PASSION

Contributing editor Robert Hart sent me this Palm Sunday homily and I think it worth posting. Meditation upon the passion of our Lord is commended to all during these days. An excerpt:

The One Who prayed “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” and said “greater love hath no man this, that a man lay down His life for His friends” would show greater love than is possible for human strength, as He would die for His friends and His enemies. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).” He set His face as a flint; His face was set toward Jerusalem. No man could make Him go there; no man could send Him to the cross.
Pilate, Caiaphas, even Judas, all thought they were calling the shots in their own way. The voluntary Passion of the Son of God is a deep mystery that we can never fully fathom.


2:41 PM


Wednesday, April 7

SOFT PATRIARCHS

I just received this press release for Brad Wilcox's new book, which I hope will draw some much-deserved attention:

Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands.
by W. Bradford Wilcox
Chicago. 288 pp. May 2004 release. ISBN: 0-226-89709-5

Summary

In the wake of dramatic, recent changes in American family life, evangelical and mainline Protestant churches took markedly different positions on family change. This work explains why these two traditions responded so differently to family change and then goes on to explore how the stances of evangelical and mainline Protestant churches toward marriage and parenting have influenced the husbands and fathers that fill their pews.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the divergent family ideologies of evangelical and mainline churches do not translate into large differences in family behavior between evangelical and mainline Protestant men who are married with children. Both mainline and evangelical Protestant family men tend to be more involved and affectionate with their wives and children.

Mainline Protestant men, he contends, are “new men” who take a more egalitarian approach to the division of household labor than their conservative peers and a more involved approach to parenting than men with no religious affiliation. Evangelical Protestant men, meanwhile, are “soft patriarchs”—not as authoritarian as some would expect, and given to being more emotional and dedicated to their wives and children than both their mainline and secular counterparts.

Thus, Soft Patriarchs, New Men largely disconfirms the charges made by leading feminists, journalists, and family scholars that evangelicalism is a force for reaction in American family life. Although evangelical family men are stricter fathers, and less inclined to do housework, they devote more time and emotional energy to their families than the average American family man. Wilcox therefore concludes that religion—including evangelical Protestantism—domesticates men in ways that make them more responsive to the aspirations and needs of their wives and children.

W. Bradford Wilcox is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. He has held research fellowships at Yale University, Princeton University, and the Brookings Institution. His essays have appeared in The Public Interest, The Responsive Community and The American Sociological Review.


4:38 PM


LEAVING WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS BEHIND

Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) , who teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, writes a weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service. In this week’s column on Catholics & Left Behind, he notes:

The Catholic bishops of Illinois did release a "Left Behind" critique, claiming: "Overall, these books reinforce an unhealthy and immature belief in a harshly judgmental God whose mercy we earn by good behavior."

Well, there’s a switch. Catholics—bishops in this case—criticizing a very popular, essentially Protestant Evangelical work for teaching what amounts to works righteousness. The charge usually (still) comes from the other camp. (I decline to comment on whether their charge has any merit. I have not read one page of the Left Behind series.)


1:02 PM


HOLY WEEK, DAY FIVE

Those who follow our Daily Devotional Guide will note that this day in Holy Week is sometimes called “Spy Wednesday” because of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, arranged on this day. This betrayal was arranged, according to gospel accounts, after Judas criticized a woman who anointed Jesus’ head with costly ointment at a banquet before Passover in Bethany, near to Jerusalem, Judas, who “kept the purse” for Jesus and the disciples, said the use of the ointment was a waste. Jesus took the woman’s side, telling Judas that she had anointed him for his burial. This scene is reminiscent of another scene in the gospels in which a woman anoints Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair.

One of the liturgical texts for Wednesday in the Orthodox Church contrasts this latter scene with Judas’s activity on Spy Wednesday:

The harlot spread out her hair before Thee, O Master, while Judas stretched out his hands to the transgressors: she, to receive forgiveness; and he to receive money Therefore we cry aloud to Thee who wast sold and hast set us free: O Lord, glory to Thee.

Judas, who gets what might seem like more than his fair share of attention during these days of Holy Week, is also a regular (albeit very minor) subject in the regular Sunday service of the Orthodox Church, where at each Divine Liturgy, the communicants say, “I will not give Thee a kiss as did Judas, but like the [good] thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.”

By the way, I count this as day five of Holy Week, with day one being last Saturday, “Lazarus Saturday.”


12:48 PM


Tuesday, April 6

EVOLUTION STICKERS

Phil Johnson sent us a story from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (April 6, 2004 Tuesday Metro Edition, Pg. 3B) that reports, “A federal judge in Atlanta has kept alive a lawsuit that seeks to have Cobb County remove disclaimers about evolution from its textbooks.”

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper decided the 2-year-old case should go to trial (later this year).

"We're very excited about this," said attorney Michael Manely, who represents Jeffrey Selman and five other Cobb parents who sued the system in August 2002 after the stickers were placed in the science books. Their lawsuit contends that the placement of the stickers restricts the teaching of evolution, promotes and requires the teaching of creationism and discriminates against particular religions.

The sticker at issue, placed on the inside front cover of Cobb science books, says, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Evolution is, in fact, a theory, since no one agrees on how it happened (if it did). (Where are the computer models showing the trail of mutations morphing into various species?)

But really—-this sticker advances religion? First, by urging that the material be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered? I thought that these were supposed to be the hallmarks of the scientific mind. Second, as I have asked more than once: which religion is being advanced (if one were in fact being advanced by this sticker)? If you can’t name the one religion that is being officially favored over others, then you don’t have any violation of even a broad interpretation of the establishment clause. Even a judge should know this much, in theory.


7:10 PM


Monday, April 5

HOLY WEEK, DAY THREE

Because we are now in the midst of Holy Week (and even more so because Holy Week falls during the same week for Eastern Orthodox and Western Christians) there will not likely be as many blogs on this site until after Easter.

I hope that most readers will not be disappointed by this--because they are preoccupied with the services of Holy Week. The Touchstone office will be closed on Good Friday, of course, as well as closed early on Maundy Thursday.

I would also encourage Christians generally to take time off work, if possible, especially for the services of Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday. Holy Week should be a time of deep reflection on the price of our redemption, spent in church hearing the Gospel accounts of the Passion of our Lord, singing the hymns that rightly praise the Lord for his bountiful mercy.

With that in mind, today I offer a few brief texts from the Monday services of the Orthodox Church:

Today the Holy Passion shines forth upon the world with the light of salvation; for Christ in His love hastens to His sufferings. He who holds all things in the hollow of His hand consents to be hung upon the Tree, that He may save mankind.

The firstfruits of the Lord's Passion fill this present day with light. Come then, all who love to keep the feast, and let us welcome it with songs. For the Creator draws near to undergo the Cross; He is questioned, beaten, and brought to Pilate for judgement; a servant strikes Him on the face, and all this He endures that He may save mankind. Therefore let us cry aloud to Him: "O Christ our God who lovest man, grant remission of sins to those who venerate in faith Thy Holy Passion."

"See, I am betrayed into the hands of sinners; they shall mock Me and nail Me to the Cross and deliver Me up for burial, with loathing, looking on Me as a corpse. Yet be of good courage: for on the third day I shall rise, bringing joy and life eternal to the faithful."

--from the Matins of Holy Monday


12:41 PM


FORGIVENESS: A CONFERENCE

A friend of the magazine and well-respected pyschologist and author Paul Vitz sent us notice of conference that he is organizing and directing on Psychotherapy and Forgiveness. It will be held in Bethesda, Maryland, Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, 2004.

Knowing Dr. Vitz's work, including his talk on fatherhood at our 1999 conference on Fatherhood, his books (Psychology as Religion, and the Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism), I am confident that this will be a very good conference. It includes two papers each by five different speakers.

The conference is being presented by the Intsitute for the Psychological Sciences, based in Arlington, VA. (IPS). Their phone number is 703-416-1441.

More information can be found at the IPS website.


11:39 AM




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