Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Really, who’s idea was it to poke a hole in someone’s nose and insert an earing or dangle a charm mid-way down the abdomen? Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? Along with the trend of exposed midriffs, belly button piercing has become quite popular. People say that belly rings are hot. But people should not even see this piercing if the girl is dressed modestly (not to mention how uncomfortable it must be to have a semipermanent ring attached to your navel). Contrarily, nostril piercing is easy to see and not immodest, and yet equally as disagreeable. Imagine a metal post sticking into your nose and then sneezing. That’s not a pretty picture. Not only are body piercings objectionable, but it is also hygienically foolish.
Piercing cartilage tissue is not painful—until the hole gets dirty and full of germs, mucus, or belly button fuzz. Right after the hole has been punched, bacteria begin to grow and the battle against sickness, sores, and serious infection is waged.1 Once the scar finally heals over the pierced flesh, the hole will never close up—it will last forever.
Additionally, when a person pierces these parts of the body, he is associating himself with a cultural attitude of a rebellion—one that a Christian should not desire to adopt.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
God’s goodness, wisdom, grace, and love are demonstrated to His people in various ways, but one of the primary means through which He sanctifies His people is via the sacrament of baptism, “The central meaning of baptism is the promise that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the grace of God avails for him and is directed to him.” Baptism is a rite of the church which outwardly displays that the person is being committed to God and “does not merely signify eternal reality, but is eternal reality, because it points significantly beyond it’s own concreteness.” It is an indelible mark on people which is directly connected to a specific time when they were publicly dedicated to God. It also serves as a great reminder and assurance of the redeeming grace of Christ which is being made manifest in their lives. Commemorative and unmistakable, this milestone serves as a great exhortation to live a godly life in light of covenantal faithfulness.
Pastors and theologians throughout the ages have argued about the value and power of baptism; two of whom are Leonard Vander Zee and Karl Barth. Both men would agree that baptism is an external sign signifying the blessing of the invisible grace of God poured out upon the person receiving it. However, they differ greatly when it comes to the question about what it means to be baptized and how that affects the Christian. This distinction boils down to the fundamental idea of what each man thinks is the correct interpretation of the covenants in relation to each other and how their contrary beliefs concerning the eligibility of a person receiving baptism impacts all of life.
Vander Zee, in his book Christ, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, says, “Water is the sacramental sign, the visible word by which the Holy Spirit, through faith, brings us into the union with Christ.” Water is nothing without the working of the Holy Spirit. Mankind is not first worthy and therefore baptized, but contrarily, he is dreadfully depraved and it is only through the grace of God that man can come to the knowledge and understanding of Him and so be brought into the new covenant. Baptism is not given as a result of holy living but it is an effectual act cultivating the attitude of sanctification. In being baptized, therefore, it is not man’s place to promise to God, but instead it is appropriate for him to humbly accept what God has promised since the beginning of time and is conveyed through the waters of baptism.
Barth, backed primarily by the reformer Zwingli, thought that baptism was simply an outward sign of submission to the cross of Christ and a time for a Christian to make a personal profession of faith and a formal dedication of his life. He viewed credo baptism as an earthly, ceremonial formality, that is emblematic of and actuated by human volition. In light of many Bible verses,
he definitively states that it is important that a believer makes a personal decision to follow Christ before he is baptized. Thus he thought children should be required to meet a certain age (the age of accountability) before baptism should be proformed. The problem with this view is that the connection between the Old and New Testaments is forgotten. Throughout the first half of the Bible, God deals with the Israelites in terms of the covenants that He made with them--father and children. Why then would this paradigm change when a new covenant is established?
Along with the great church father Calvin, Vander Zee opposes Barth’s theology in believing that besides being an external symbol of the bestowing of grace on the person, infant baptism is a time when human life is united to Christ in a mysterious and undying assurance of the unmerited favor and exacting love of the Triune God and covenantally renewed. Paedo baptism, following in the Christian tradition, is steeped in the fundamental covenant theology. Appreciation for the rich symbolism of the baptism of infants is impossible unless the connections between the old and new covenants are made clear. This is where the biggest discrepancy of the two beliefs clash. Circumcision was the physical sign of the old covenants given to the male members of covenant-keeping families. After Christ came and fulfilled all that was prophesied, the tradition was modified to reflect the change that was radically wrought in the lives of all who believed. The Apostle Paul reminds the Romans that circumcision is no longer a necessary faith-binding act. Instead it is the circumcision of the heart that really counts. When a person has this symbol engraved in his heart, he is then following in the post-Jesus means of the covenant.
In a covenantal household, children are raised according to the assumption that they are part of God’s eternal plan. Parents treat their children as brothers and sisters in the Lord and nurturingly teach them about the love of God, what it means to be a Christian, and the orthopraxy involved in living for the Lord; they are “little-Christs” being shaped and molded to grow up as faithful members of the church in God’s grace. Unlike the practice of believer’s baptism, babies are not baptized because they know what is going on and acknowledge their sin, guilt, and need for a Savior. Antithetically, infant baptism is performed via the parents’ faith, and in return it becomes a crucial landmark in the person’s life symbolizing their eternal bond in the covenant of grace. Because babies are not required to give account of their faith, there are people who have been baptized and are actively reaping the inherent and gracious blessing of God’s covenant promises yet are not called as part of the invisible church.
Efficacious and transcendent, the sacrificial redemption of Jesus Christ is offered to all people. Romans 6:3-4 gives us the picture of not only being baptized into the life of the resurrection power, but also vicariously being united in the death of the Son of God, that we might know what it means to live forever with our Lord. Offered freely to all, but sovereignly believed only by God’s elect, baptism is not a black and white litmus test determining whether or not a person is one of “God’s chosen.” Rather, the miracle wrought through this symbol by the Holy Spirit is awesome and not easily comprehendible. It is like a sunrise; fantastic but not clearly discernible when the array of oranges and pinks change and the colors slowly fade into a majestic blue heaven. So it is as a person matures. As a part of God’s covenant, he will mature over time and his faith will be cultivated and strengthened. “Baptism plunges us into the waters of his vicarious human life, uniting us and identifying us with this new creation.” Baptism is an efficacious sacrament instituted by the church, made powerful through Christ, creating an everlasting bond through the covenant into the community of God’s set apart people.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Can there be anything more annoying than sitting next to someone who has the dreadful habit of ksnerting? I don’t mean a person innocently teaching a child onomatopoeias. Or the chronically sinus-congested man who snores with out reprieve. No, not even the girl hysterically laughing and once in a while making an embarrassing nasal snort. I am referring to the people who realize they need to sneeze and try to be polite, but in doing so make themselves vastly more noticeable and obnoxious than they would otherwise have been. Sitting there with eyes tightly shut, mouth slightly open, gripping the arms of the chair, anticipating the explosion of stifled pressure which ultimately culminates in a stertorious and somewhat muffled, seizure-like attack. Everybody hears the ersatz sneeze and at least half of them turn around to see who the not-so-stealthy man was. On the other hand, simply sneezing is no big deal. It happens to the best of us when our noses are tickled. There is nothing to be ashamed of, just accept the amiable benediction you are bound to receive and move on; quite uncomplicated.
Ksnerters, know that the pain you undergo is all for not.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
In society driven by celebutante news and My-Space profiles, women of class, style, and charm are hard to come by. As the Audreys and Katharines of the world continue to lose their luster...is it possible to maintain traditional virtues in a modern world?
The challenge of appropriate attire is in realizing that what a person wears conveys who they are and what they believe is important. Relationships are not based on outward appearances. However, this does not mean we can dismiss the importance of suitable dress.
Sweatpants may be the most comfortable clothing to hang out in, but that does not make it acceptable for wearing in public. “Today, [slouching] describes an interesting fashion style where oversized clothes hang off the body as if the wearer inexplicably lost twenty or thirty pounds between the time he finished dressing and the moment he showed up in public.”As Nancy Wilson said, we wear clothing not for our ease, but by actively pursuing virtue, we should make the people around us comfortable. This means considering who we are interacting with and how we can best demonstrate our thoughtfulness towards them. Once this has been established, the next obstacle is simply learning what it means to dress well. Christian Dior stated, “there is no fashion which is good without care, enthusiasm, and zest behind it. Zest in designing..zest in making...zest in wearing your clothes.” Mediocre societal norms are challenged in an organized survey of monumental depth concerning fashions, modesty, and assumptions which are associated with given trends. The Harris brothers, along with many other Christian authors, challenge women to synthesize their godly disciplines and dress standards.
Christian women should not wear saggy-baggy, skin-tight, low-cut, comfy-cozy clothing in public. We should not dress for ourselves but rather, dress in such a way as to make our brothers and sisters comfortable. Personal ease is not what it is all about. On the contrary, we should demonstrate honor, respect, and humility in our clothing. The world has a powerful charm and Christian women must be wary of its deadening effects. It can be tempting to adopt the clothing the culture deems appropriate, but we must keep our eyes off our selfish desires and look to edify others. Frumpiness does not only refer to the people in saran-wrapped jeans and plunging necklines, but also includes some “high fashion (see figure 1).” In fact, many of today’s popular trends are just as frumpy.
Christian demeanor in dress is relevant in every woman’s life. Thomas Brooks aptly said: “Certainly such as fear the Lord should go in no apparel but first, such as they are willing to die in; secondly, to appear before the Ancient of Days in; thirdly, to stand before the judgement seat in.” The Bible is full of examples of people wearing noteworthy clothing and taking pride in dressing well. Beautiful, modest, embroidered and fine apparel, garments of praise, and choice clothes are all explicitly mentioned in Scripture. Dressing well is a matter of learning how to distinguish between frumpiness (see figure 2) and true class (see figure 3). Every situation we encounter requires a certain type of clothing: a backyard BBQ is casual, whereas dinner at an expensive restaurant is much dressier. Only after such a contrast has been made will we begin to raise the culturally accepted subpar standard of dowdy fashion.
One of the biggest pitfalls of modern fashion is the misleading assumption that women can wear whatever they want wherever they go. Because people make judgements based on what we look like, and Christians are supposed to be representing God, we cannot disregard clothing. Sloppiness is not style; it is not cool, hip, or chic. Self-expressive style dismisses the authority high standards of fashion used to invoke. Excuses about dressing modestly and cramping personal style are plentiful.
If we are smart, sophisticated, and chic, our attire will most likely reflect those attributes. On the flip side, all of our rude, grungy, and vile traits can be portrayed through our duds, as well. It’s no secret that girls with self-image problems often dress to compensate for the pieces that are missing in their lives...our level of self-respect shows up in a number of different areas, and fashion, dress, and personal style happen to be some of the biggest and most obvious ones.
Walking the line is dangerous. When an authority give you a guideline, it is unwise to sink to the lowest end of the spectrum and get away with the least acceptable clothing possible. Rise to the challenge and impress them with your posh and tasteful style.
Wearing comfy clothes is completely appropriate--until you step out the door. In our casual society, women have ceased to care about their appearance. No matter how often people say you should not judge based on appearances, it always happens, “we make entire character verdicts based on the absence or presence of ratty tennis shoes, designer jackets, ill-fitting pants, or leather bags...”
When you go out in public, remember that your appearance says a lot about you and the God whom you serve; take time to present yourself well, change those shabbily-frayed jeans for a vogue knit dress and pearls, look in the mirror and touch up your make-up.
Fashion does not have to be immodest, expensive, or frumpy--simply attractive (see figure 4). Striving after truth, beauty, and goodness, we as Christian women should be concerned with what we look like and how we represent our families and God. However, it is also important not to let go of the double-fold vision of also having an inner purity which shines through the outward mien. By all means, wear your baggy sweatpants around the house, but when it’s time to leave, kick off the slippers at the door and step into the world, knowing you are a lovely, counter-cultural Christian woman.
Figure 4. Above left, Maren; above middle, Helen; above right, Julie. Photography by Lisa Warninger.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Reminiscent of adventure packed, third-grade, “choose-your-ending” readers, Hero is a repetitive, over stylized martial arts spoof. Un-named and enigmatic, the samurai-warrior appears in the first scene and immediately displays his aggrandized mastery of judo. Hero, zealous for world renown fame, easily accomplishes his mission and defeats the three assassins, only for the story to rewind and revisit the epic narrative in new color schemes. Four colors, one hue prominent in each retelling, are used to show the emotions of the person describing the action sequence. However well coordinated the colors are to the feelings they are trying to provoke, they are distracting and discomfit the viewer by inundating the mind with an overload of stimulation. Moreover this film is chalk full of ridiculous phenomenons--lightening-fast reactions that are not humanly possible without special effects; ambivalent characters that vacillate between right and wrong; men flying through the air, brandishing otherwise unwieldable ornate katanas. Along with the fantastical, flawless choreography, these unrealistic elements turn the noble and manly qualities of ancient hand-to-hand skirmishes into bizarre ballet-like dances. Not to mention the irrelevant details that are added indiscriminately to the subsequent recurrent plots. Hero’s computerized reality is inordinately pathetic.
This was my last recitation before I go home for fall break! yay!!!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Declamations are a weekly 2-hour torture session that all the freshmen participate in. We all write roughly 250 words and present them on stage to our class (50ish students and 2 teachers/critics). If you can't guess, I don't like these at all. The writing isn't bad, but my presentation is kinda a flop--I get so nervous and I can't talk very loud...lots of room for improvement there. I thought I'd share today's assignment with y'all (persuasive argument against something):
When was the last time you carried on a conversation of any substance with a friend? And no, that does not include Facebook chats.
Used properly, Facebook is a convenient photo-sharing interface. But, have you considered what else you divulge via the facade of pop-culture in the world of cyberspace? Not only do you see your friend’s weirdest faces that you wish you had never seen and learn about the grossest food combinations, you also publicize personal information for the world’s exploitation, and spend hours perusing random people’s pages--admit it, you don’t know a fourth of the people you “friend” or the people in the photos you check frequently. The majority of status updates are mental blurbs of stupidity, a steady flow of uninteresting happenings, or, most exasperating, un-cited quotes.
This evening, instead of logging into your account and submersing yourself in the shallow world of computer-nourished peer-dependance and a deluge of “likes” on your most recent one-liner, break out of your Facebook mania and live in the real world; get some fresh air, drink coffee with a friend (not a text book), or write a letter--yes, snail mail does still exist.