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Yearly Archives: 2008


“As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God”

So says Matthew Paris:

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

(H/T: John Hobbins)

I also noted this in the comments from someone in Brazil, but I’ll leave it to others to decide its merit:

Couldn’t the same be argued for the English sub-classes that have developed as a result of 60 years of socialism? They are totally passive, dependant on the State, lazy, feckless, promiscuous, no family or work values to speak of. Britain could do with a few missionaries.

I do know that parts of the U.S. could definitely do with a few (more) missionaries!


Merry Christmas to All

… and to all a good night!

Lessons and Carols: The Ninth Lesson

The Ninth Lesson:

St John unfolds the mystery of the Incarnation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)


Of the Father’s Love Begotten

The Tenth Muse 16

“But he speaks our language?”

The Great King of the Achaians paced from one end of his tent to the other. Once more, he studied the wax tablets the ship captain had given him and the curious markings on them. They were like nothing he had seen before. Nor could his scribes make anything of them. Even if he could read, this was no form of writing anyone had ever seen.

“After a fashion, O King. His accent is nearly impossible to follow at times, but he seems to take my meaning if I tell him something slowly and loudly enough. It’s clear he isn’t Achaian, but-as I said-he has even less mastery of the Wilian language.”

“The Wilians have many allies, Wiphitos: Carians, Dardanians, Thracians-the list is endless. They may speak a dozen or more languages in their ranks.”

The king took another look at the tablets. He sighed, then set them down on a wooden table.

“Could this be some kind of coded message?” the king pondered.

“That was my thought, O King. That’s why I brought the tablets to you. If Wilios can expect further reinforcements from more distant lands, I knew you would want to know.”

“Indeed.” The king frowned. The last thing he needed was for the enemy to gain reinforcements. If it weren’t for their allies, his forces would have the Wilians outnumbered ten to one. As it was, they were at an evenly matched stalemate that seemed to go on forever.

“Treat him decently-for now. Put him to whatever work you may find for him to do. I’ll discuss the matter with some of the other kings and have him brought before me presently.”

“As you say, O King.” Wiphitos saluted and exited the royal tent. The king became aware of the sound of whimpering.

“As for you,” he addressed the young girl cowering in the shadows. “You will have to wait until this mystery is solved.”

She shuddered, uncomprehending. He knew the bare rudiments of her language-it was the language of commerce and diplomacy, after all, and he was the Great King.

“You stay here,” he said. Then: “Tell me your name.”

“Ashtinamas, daughter of Pihas.”

“Daughter of the shining one, eh?” he said in Achaian. He tried to pronounce the name she gave him, but the sibilant gave him trouble.

“Astynomê,” he finally said. “That will be close enough. Astynomê, daughter of Khrysês.”

Lessons and Carols: The Eighth Lesson

The Eighth Lesson:

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (Matthew 2:1-12)


O Come, All Ye Faithful

Bilingual Bonus: In Greek, the words of the wise men to King Herod can be sung to the tune ADESTE FIDELES if you add an “Amen” or an “Alleluia” at the end:

ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ τεχθεὶς
βασιλεὺς τῶν ἰουδαίων;
εἴδομεν γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀστέρα
ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν
προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ. (3x)

or phonetically,

poo ehss-teen oh tekh-thees
vah-see-levs tohn yoo-dheh-ohn
ee-dhoh-men gar ahf-too tohn ah-steh-rah
en tee ah-nah-toh-lee keh eel-thoh-men
prohs-kee-nee-seh ahf-toh (3x)

Origins of Judaism

Jim West links to an interesting article: Charles David Isbell, “From Yahwism to Judahism.”

For a similar-yet-different approach to the same issue, see Tyler Williams’s summary of “The Exiled Gods of Babylon in Neo-Assyrian Prophecy” by Martti Nissinen.

Lessons and Carols: The Seventh Lesson

The Seventh Lesson:

The shepherds go to the manger.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-16, NLT)


While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night