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Movies@Milligan House: upcoming schedule

We finally got our act together enough to provide some dates for Movies@Milligan House in advance — here’s the schedule for the next three months:

  • September 29
  • October 27
  • December 1

(Each is a Friday night, and they all start at 6:30pm.) I’ll announce the movies soon.


Offended by the Pope? (no, not by THAT remark)

Since some people in the world are feeling mighty offended at Pope Benedict’s recent speech (or rather, by a snippet that has been taken out of context and transmitted as though people were using paper cups to communicate), I thought it salutary (Ron’s word) to take a moment to read the actual text of the speech. In response to the response, as it were, SLU professor of medieval history Thomas Madden has a fine article in NRO, and Bret Stephens has one in the WSJ. But those commentaries deal primarily with the speech vis-a-vis the “inflamed Arab street,” whereas as a Protestant, I am also curious about the remarks the pope made that were (supposedly) critical of the Reformers:

De-Hellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Reformation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.

The principle of “sola scriptura,” on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this program forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

Can someone illucidate what the pope is getting at here?


Don’t confuse us with the PCUSA!

The WSJ has an interesting, if disturbing, article on the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church — USA:

Now, however–five years after 9/11–the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church has decided to heat up the brimstone a notch, releasing its very own 9/11 conspiracy theory: “Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action.” Written by David Griffin and put out by Westminster John Knox Press, a division of the Presbyterian Publishing Corp., the book argues that 9/11 was a highly orchestrated Bush administration sham. The collapse of the World Trade Center–which, the book says, was brought on by controlled demolitions, not Islamic hijackers–was merely a “false flag” operation, designed to spur wars in the Middle East. The goal: an all-powerful American global empire.

Like I said, disturbing. Not surprising, given what the PCUSA has been up to recently, but disturbing all the same. The article begins, however, with this quote:

Presbyterians in America aren’t known for preaching fire and brimstone…

Who says we aren’t — didn’t they hear Pastor Mark’s sermon a couple of Sundays ago!? Just kidding, of course. But the point I wish to make is that the term “Presbyterians in America,” while used in a general, non-specific way here, can also of course refer to the proper title of our denomination, which is relevant in this article, insofar as the content of the article concerns a particular denomination. In the hopes of clarifying the issue, I posted a reply — we’ll see if they publish it.


A Joining and Receiving in St. Louis

ByFaithOnline had a mention today of the joining service:

A Joining and Receiving in St. Louis
On Sunday, July 30, Olive Branch Presbyterian Church in urban St. Louis, Mo., joined and was received by South City Church (Mission) in a nearby area. South City was a daughter church of the Old Orchard Church. The Olive Branch church has been serving the city of St. Louis for 125 years and so brings its history and heritage to the new church plant as they both continue together to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the city.

It was good to be there for the worship service and witness God’s work in the midst of both the church plant and the former Olive Branch fellowship. Keep praying for the gospel work there in south city.

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“Blessed are the Peacemakers” (Lutjens)

Sunday sermon (Matthew 5:9)

(Sermon Series on Matthew) The Beatitudes: Becoming Subversives for the Sake of the Kingdom. More on the countercultural character of Christ.
Ron Lutjens, senior pastor, preaching.


Introducing the “7-Point Review”: Match Point

In an effort to get people writing/reviewing popular culture, I’d like to introduce a hopefully fun little idea that I’m calling the “7-Point Review” — a quick way to review movies, books, music and other art forms. The idea is to convey a few main thoughts on whatever you’ve just seen, read or listened to. Since full-length reviews take time to write, this hopefully will inspire us to write more often and cover a wider variety of subjects. Of course, if we feel like it, we can go back and “flesh out” one or more of the bulletpoints later to make a more traditional review (my personal goal is to do one of these for every movie I see).

So without further ado, I’ll begin with a 7-Point Review of Woody Allen’s latest film, Match Point:

Match Point

  1. I liked it better the first time when it was called “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” As Megan said, it’s a younger, sexier version of that film.
  2. It revisits themes of guilt/conscience and luck/chance.
  3. It has an interesting ghost-visitation scene a la Macbeth.
  4. Humble recommendation to the legendary director: When you have a scene in which the detective wakes up in the middle of the night with a “I know who did it!” revelation, it’s much better if it’s really a revelation rather than something that was explicitly already known to the audience (perhaps a sign that Woody Allen is losing steam).
  5. A Woody Allen movie just isn’t a Woody Allen movie without Woody Allen in the movie. As Megan said, Woody Allen appearing in it “would’ve ruined it,” which is kind of my point: It only felt like a WA film at the beginning (with the Woody Allen font in the opening credits — hat tip: Megan) and the end, when we hear some good philosophical dialog about how people justify their actions and how “chance” affects people’s lives. The other 90% of the movie is a self-serving, drawn out — if passionately drawn out — affair of two beautiful, selfish people; not exactly compelling art unless you’re interested in the eye candy of wealthy, young, sexy British people.
  6. All the same, it’s got some classic WA touches: Riverside scenes, matinee movie scene and scratchy-quality opera music overdubs but too few philosophical or intellectual considerations and too little humor.
  7. Recommendation: Go rent Crimes and Misdemeanors instead.


Afghan Convert May Be Unfit for Trial

This is a deeply disturbing story. What does everyone think?


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Podcasts for Covenant Worldwide materials

In case you missed it, Covenant Seminary is offering beaucoup des courses online, free of charge. That’s right, high-quality seminary-course material, free for the download. I’m currently listening to the legendary Dr. David Calhoun teach Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, a real treat. So far, it’s the only class that the site provides with a podcast feed. However, Nate reminded me how easy it is to create one’s own feed, so I went ahead and did so for another fab course taught by a fab prof, Jerram Barrs’s Apologetics and Outreach. Here’s the feed:


The sound quality for that one won’t be as good as the Institutes class, because the Sem is still in the process of remastering the digital files. Here’s a note from Ann Copeland, the Seminary’s web master:

We will be podcasting all the courseware, but currently do not have the other courses’ audio produced with a sample rate that plays well on a non-iPod MP3 player. Until AV Services can re-sample all the other courses, I don’t want to advertise a feed for files that sound like somebody talking underwater when you play them on some MP3 players. All the files should be OK to play on a computer, though.

Be aware of that issue if you choose to post a feed to any other course than Calvin’s Institutes at this time. I will be posting feeds as the re-sampled audio becomes available.

I know I can’t wait, so I may try to make a few more feeds in the meantime.

This is truly an outstanding development for the church worldwide, as people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the fine teaching at Covenant can now do so. While it may not have the same impact as the Gutenberg Bible, it certainly is a gesture in the same direction, and Covenant should be lauded for the efforts.


KSDK: Billboard Campaign Offers Way To Change Sexual Orientation

I noticed that this report was going to air, but I didn’t see it. The article from Channel 5’s site has the accompanying video.


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The Chronic — WHAT! — les of Narnia!

This is a must-see/hear:

Now quiet in the theatre
or it’s gonna get tragic,
We’re gonna get taken
to a dream-world of magic!

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