Monthly Archives: October 2012

29 Years = More Books

Yesterday was my 29th birthday. Celebrated with family during the weekend, they are such a rich blessing. My wife said this is my “Golden Birthday” since I turned 29 on October 29th.  Also, 29 is a prime number, so this birthday is a force to be reckoned with. My children spoiled me rotten and bought me a stack of books for my birthday. Top to bottom of the stack . . .

The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People, 1654 – 1994 by Stewart Rafert.

Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture by Rene Girard with Pierpaolo Antonello and Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha.

The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts by Leland Ryken.

The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs 

Scripture’s Doctrine and Theology’s Bible: How the New Testament Shapes Christian Dogmatics edited by Markus Bockmuehl and Alan J. Torrance.

Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan.

Where the Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places by Peter Nabokov. 

Tuesdays with Blaster at Tree & The Seed: TMWAJ – Tracks 7, 8, and 9

Today’s installment is over Tracks 7, 8, and 9 of Blaster the Rocket Man’s 1999 release, The Monster Who Ate Jesus.

Go here for initial comments on album and the linear notes.
Go here for comments on Tracks 1, 2, and 3.
Go here for comments on Tracks 4, 5, and 6.

Track 7 – Ransom vs. the Unman

Straight forward Rat-a-Tat-Tat-Tat-Tat drumming, well placed palm-muted guitars, punk-rock guitar pick slides denoting the transition into the Chorus.  Track 7 and 8 lyrically draw from Lewis’ Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. Growing up with Blaster was a blessing. I was a kid raised on a farm in mid-central Indiana, smack in the middle of corn fields, and Blaster was a musical and literary gateway to things outside the normal planetary rotation of rural Hoosier life.

Into the nightmare monster’s embrace
The teeth and the claws and the jaws of the face
The ripping of skin and the reeking of breath
The real life enacting of myth
(For he loved not his life unto death) 
Ransom! vs. The Unman!
Ransom! The Unman!
Ransom The Unman!
Ransom The Unman! (4x) 
He flung himself on the death that was living
“His hands taught him terrible things . . .
He felt its ribs break . . . heard its jaw-bone
As they pummeled and scraped and attacked
(But he’s not of those who shrink back)
repeat Chorus
“In the sphere of Venus I learned war.
In this age Saturn will descend.
I am the Pendragon” (C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength). 
Track 8 – March of the Macrobes

As mentioned above, lyrics for this song are drawn from Lewis’ That Hideous Strength.
Macrobes! Macrobes!
Here come the Heads!
The Chosen Heads of the Bodiless Men
Macrobes! Macrobes!
Here come the Heads!
Here come the Chosen Heads
of the Bodiless (Men)
From ape to man to god
by rape we plant the pod
to propagate the fraud
From ape to man to god
by rape we plant the pod
to liquidate the body
You could be a vessel for
that hideous . . . strength
You could be the gateway
The time is here
They’re drawing near
Can you feel the tension
from another dimension?
Leave flesh behind.
There’s only mind.
Or set the brain apart
to elevate the heart
Whatever happened to the individual? (N.I.C.E.)
Where is his soul? (R.A.P.E)
(As you walk along the brightly lit corridors
you hear a soothing, androgynous voice
“Welcome to the National Institute for
Coordinated Experiments where we offer
Rationalized Alternatives to Plausible
Evidence,” etc.
There’s no unity
in your dichotomy
Section by section
Vivid vivisection
at the point of integration
with no relation
to the whole
You’ve no choice left you
but to make
an irrational leap of faith
For the Macrobes are marching over you!
Marching Macrobes
Macrobes on the march (cha! cha! cha!)
Track 9 – Cop City

This is an instrumental “surf-rock” sounding song with Spanish counting thrown in for good measure, “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro!” Conventional guitar riff opener eventually transitioning into a reverberated guitar phrasing, and “Cinco, Seis, Siete, Ocho!”

Cornelius “One Liner” Van Til

“When the enemy attacks the foundations, we must be able to protect these foundations” (24).

“The church’s doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God is based upon and is the logical consequence of God’s absolute self-existence” (33).

“It is really only the Christian who can speak of implication, because no one but him really takes the idea of an absolute system seriously” (35).

“The proper way to begin with facts is therefore to claim that unless they are what Christians say they are, they are unintelligible” (41).

“All men are either in covenant with Satan or in covenant with God” (68).

“Once man has sinned, his intellect is disturbed no less than are his emotions or his will” (75).

“The average philosopher and scientist today holds to a nontheistic conception of reason and therefore also to a nontheistic conception of evidence” (87).

“Surely the Christian, who believes in the doctrine of creation, cannot share the Greek depreciation of the things of the sense world” (93).

“Either man is created by God, or he is not” (97).

“The assurance of the truth of revelation is the work of the internal testimony of the Spirit” (103).

“Without the testimony of the Spirit, even Adam and Eve in Paradise would have lived in uncertainty and doubt” (104).

“Revelation is always testimony . . . . [i]t is always authoritative testimony and as such requires obedience” (114).

“The revelation of God was deposited in the whole of creation . . . . [m]an was to be God’s reinterpreter, that is, God’s prophet on earth” (129).

“Nature cannot be studied fruitfully except in combination with man. Man is the reinterpreter of God’s universe” (134) [I know. I know. This is a two-liner.]

“The Christian can obtain his philosophy of fact from no other source than Scripture” (152).

“Man is and remains God’s self-conscious creature” [cf. Romans 1:19] (160).

“The created personality is the highest manifestation of the personality of God” (160).

“No sinner can interpret reality aright” (164).

“Revelation in nature is but a limiting concept, a concept incomplete without its correlative [correlative concept is what is needed for a limiting concept to be understood] as found in supernatural communication” (171).

“The foolishness of the denial of the Creator lies precisely in the fact that this Creator confronts man in every fact so that no fact has any meaning for man except it be seen as God’s creation” (174).

“Salvation means that man, the sinner, must be brought back to the knowledge of himself as the creature of God and therefore, to the knowledge of God as the Creator” (195).

“It is a common mistake of modern theology to mix the categories of the ethical and the metaphysical” (209).

“The distinction between Creator and creature has not been changed in the least by the incarnation of Christ” (212).”

“When sin came, it would have destroyed true prophecy. Then God gave the mother promise” [Genesis 3:15] (213).

“The central miracle of Christianity, as it is in the person and work of Christ, is necessary not because man is man, but because man is a sinner” (219).

“Man needs true interpretation, but he also needs to be made a new creature” (219).

“[A] healed soul in a healed body needs a healed nature in which to live” (220).

“Now God, in special revelation, actually brings the true interpretation into the possession of the souls of those whom he has chosen” (222).

“Revelation had to be historically mediated” (224).

“Jesus was the greatest religious expert that ever lived. Accordingly, we ought to attach great weight to his words” (231).

“It was necessary that the ethical alienation should be removed in order that the original metaphysical relation be able to function normally again” (232).

“Scripture needs no additional revelation” (240).

“[O]nly God himself can testify to the revelation that he has given of himself. Special revelation must, in the nature of the case, be self-testified” (243).

All quotes from An Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God (P&R, 2007).

Tuesdays with Blaster at Tree & The Seed: TMWAJ – Tracks 4, 5, and 6

Today’s installment is over Tracks 4, 5, and 6 of Blaster the Rocket Man’s 1999 release, The Monster Who Ate Jesus.

Go here for initial comments on album and the linear notes.
Go here for comments on Tracks 1, 2, and 3.

Track 4 – Stampede!

This is a cowboy punk-rock anthem about a stampede of intergalactic cattle/celestial beasts. Musically quite fun, a very rowdy song, and was a crowd favorite at shows. This song is the first track on Blaster’s Live CD (Disc 2 of The Anatomy of a Monster), which, as far as live albums go, is a pretty rough record from a production standpoint. However, punk-rock generally hast not placed much merit in the metrics of production.

Stampede is lyrically a lot of fun. Anytime a song allows me to chant “Stampede!!!” and “Yippy ki ay!” and “Whoa hoss, easy fella!” it makes me giddy like a kid again. As enjoyable as that is, lyrically the song is a neat allegory with a twist of fantasy. 

Out on the range one night
We saw a strange sight comin’ right out of the sky
It was a monster herd of the unheard of
Livestock of the Cosmos
A multifarious multitude of intergalactic cattle
Well, round here we don’t take kindly
to no otherworldly
And a cowboy’s gotta’ do what a cowboy’s gotta do
I took my rifle from the saddle and my lassoo too
Let’s round us up some supper, boys!
Ride ’em fast! Ride ’em hard!
(Chasin’ the Devil’s herd)
Move along, move along, move along
lil’ dogies!
(Drivin’ the monsters from the Earth)
Yippy ki ay, Yippy ki oh
Keep that cattle movin’
Got it rollin’ to the killin’
Gonna’ rope up the unwillin’
Saw a rocketship wagon
driving’ hideous horses
Had the whole team in its tractor beam
They gave an awful, eerie scream
that chilled my blood and spooked my steed
but I shook it off and took aim at the cockpit
Well, the boys were firin’ too
and we all know we hit our target
as we watched the spacecraft
goin’ down in flames
Then our eyes bugged in surprise
as the skies turned into chaos
The herd was loose
Steady boys, there’s gonna’ be noise!
Ride ’em fast! Ride ’em hard!
(Chasin’ the Devil’s herd)
Move along, move along, move along
lil’ dogies!
(Drivin’ the monsters from Earth)
Yippy ki ay, Yippy ki oh
Keep that cattle movin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ rawhide!
We’ll kill ’em when we catch ’em on earthside
I’m back on the range
to keep the strange from further invasion
Protecting my family and my property
I’m back on the range
to keep the strange from further invasion
Protecting my family and my property
I’m back in the saddle again
where you don’t know who’s your friend
and the queer-horned cattle feed
on the lonely, bluish weed
Sometimes at night
I hear the mournful cryin’
of bestial extra-terrestrials
Whoah hoss. Easy fella’

Track 5 – Human Fly Trap (Our Hero Escapes from Venus)

The following is the introduction to track 5 in the album’s linear notes.

In the seemingly limitless possibilities of science fiction there are many Venuses to be explored. Let not this one be confused with Lewis’s transcendent vision of Perelandra which is referred to elsewhere on this album. In fact, it is basically an alternate reality of the  Perelandrian paradise in that it shares  her sensuous beauty but not her unfallen state.

This “evil twin” is not a New Eden, but a False Eden that entices its isolated explorers toward self-gratification which slowly transmogrifies them into a suitable food for consumption – namely, the Fly. (And how does this half-human, half-fly monster escape, you ask? by eating Jesus, of course!)”

This song begins with delayed guitars and also has some excellent keys/organ parts. Lyrically this is a song that reveals its narrative’s moral by antithesis–the Hero has mutated into half-fly/half-human and in order to escape this “False Eden” he must “FLY” (as in fly away, flight, run away). He is caught in a False Eden, a world that has teeth. This Hero is caught in the trap of a False Eden/Venus Fly-Man Eater. However, this is a Salvation story. Our Hero escapes. He escapes because the Lord severs him from the “maw of death”. Salvation and grace, indeed.

Report #1 to Space Station:
“How very breathable the air is here.
My head is clear. I have no fear.
Sensuous is the status
of my sensory apparatus.
My research is going quite well
and I’ve been getting to know my self
While chasing the planetary standard.
Embracing this land in all her grandeur
with open arms and all five senses
and to her charms I feel defenseless.
But I have dreams where it seems
my body has a fly head
and a fly has my head!
Can’t anybody hear that little fly
on the wall screaming?
It’s got a tiny human head
screaming, screaming for help!”
A heart to harden
in a carnivorous green garden
of sentient, bionic botany
gigantic mouth closing down on me!

Report #2 to Space Station:
“Can you see me on this communication?
I’ve changed. I’m a mutation.
A variation of you former friend.
But all you see can see is this
hideous head of a fly!
Don’t try to rescue me.
Oh no, no this planet’s all my own.
Won’t you just leave me alone?
(Who knew this world had teeth?
Into it I go and down beneath.)
Can’t anybody hear that little fly
on the wall screaming?
It’s got a tiny human head
screaming, screaming for help!”

Linear Note — The following fragment of a transcript was found
in a blood stained notebook lying open near the
scene of carnage. A similarly bloodied stylus was
also found, with which the message was presumably

“If the shuttle is leaving
I’ll not be cleaving.
Lord, sever me
from this maw of death.
The same word that describes what I have become
also defines my graciously given means of escape.
To flee. To run away”

Track 6 – [Untitled]

The entirety of this track is an excerpt from Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in C.S. Lewis’ sci-fi/space trilogy. The spoken word is over background noises, mechanical yet organic droning with incremental thuds (I can’t decide if it is akin to a heartbeat or something sounding-like-the-noise-that-is-made-inside-of-a-car-trunk while a car commutes over a long bridge). This excerpt is the introduction to Track 7 – “Ransom vs. the Unman” (anticipation!). 

No insect-like, vermiculite or crustacean Abominable,
no twitching feelers, rasping wings, slimy coils,
curling tentacles, no monstrous union of superhuman
intelligence and insatiable cruelty seemed to him
anything but likely on an alien world. He saw in
imagination various incompatible monstrosities –
bulbous eyes, grinning jaws, horns, stings, mandibles.
Loathing of insects, loathing of snakes, loathing
of things that squashed and squelched, all played
their horrible symphonies over his nerves. But the
reality would be worse: it would be an extra-
terrestrial otherness – something one had never
thought of, never could have thought of. In that
moment Ransom made a decision . . . 

LOL: Calvin, Yoda, and the Institutes

Ever wonder what John Calvin would sound like if he was Yoda? I ran the first paragraph from the Institutes through an English-to-Yoda translator. No need to wonder now.

First paragraph per John Calvin . . .

The First Book treats of the knowledge of God the Creator. But as it is in the creation of man that the divine perfections are best displayed, so man also is made the subject of discourse. Thus the whole book divides itself into two principal heads—the former relating to the knowledge of God, and the latter to the knowledge of man. In the first chapter, these are considered jointly; and in each of the following chapters, separately: occasionally, however, intermingled with other matters which refer to one or other of the heads; e.g., the discussions concerning Scripture and images, falling under the former head, and the other three concerning the creation of the world, the holy angels and devils, falling under the latter. The last point discussed—viz. the method of the divine government, relates to both.

First paragraph per Yoda . . .

Of the knowledge of god the creator the first book treats. But in the creation of man that the divine perfections are best displayed, it as is, so made the subject of discourse, man also is.  To the knowledge of god thus the whole book divides itself into two principal heads—the former relating, and to the knowledge of man the latter.  In the first chapter, considered jointly, these are; and of the following chapters in each, separately:  Occasionally, however, with other matters intermingled which refer to one or other of the heads; e.g., the discussions concerning scripture and images, falling under the former head, and of the world the other three concerning the creation, the holy angels and devils, falling under the latter.  The last point discussed—viz.  Of the divine government the method, to both relates.


PTO – October 10

Today is Moses’ third birthday, and I am grateful for paid-time-off.

After breakfast Moses says, “I want to sing from church book.” Of course I say, “That is fine. Go grab a book.” (Moses refers to my 38 Volume/Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers as “church books”.) Moses grabs Vol. 4 of Ante-Nicene Fathers off the bookshelf and runs back to the breakfast table, opening the book he points and says, “Sing this!”

So, together we sing  an excerpt from Origen Against Celsus, Book I., Chap. XXIV:

After this he continues:  “These herdsmen and shepherds concluded that there was but one God, named either the Highest, or Adonai, or the Heavenly, or Sabaoth, or called by some other of those names which they delight to give this world; and they knew nothing beyond that.”  And in a subsequent part of his work he says, that “It makes no difference whether the God who is over all things be called by the name of Zeus, which is current among the Greeks, or by that [About right here Moses says, “Done singing.” And goes and puts the book away.], e.g., which is in use among the Indians or Egyptians.”  Now, in answer to this, we have to remark that this involves a deep and mysterious subject—that, viz., respecting the nature of names:  it being a question whether, as Aristotle thinks, names were bestowed by arrangement, or, as the Stoics hold, by nature; the first words being imitations of things, agreeably to which the names were formed, and in conformity with which they introduce certain principles of etymology; or whether, as Epicurus teaches (differing in this from the Stoics), names were given by nature,—the first men having uttered certain words varying with the circumstances in which they found themselves.  If, then, we shall be able to establish, in reference to the preceding statement, the nature of powerful names, some of which are used by the learned amongst the Egyptians, or by the Magi among the Persians, and by the Indian philosophers called Brahmans, or by the Samanæans, and others in different countries; and shall be able to make out that the so-called magic is not, as the followers of Epicurus and Aristotle suppose, an altogether uncertain thing, but is, as those skilled in it prove, a consistent system, having words which are known to exceedingly few; then we say that the name Sabaoth, and Adonai, and the other names treated with so much reverence among the Hebrews, are not applicable to any ordinary created things, but belong to a secret theology which refers to the Framer of all things.  These names, accordingly, when pronounced with that attendant train of circumstances which is appropriate to their nature, are possessed of great power; and other names, again, current in the Egyptian tongue, are efficacious against certain demons who can only do certain things; and other names in the Persian language have corresponding power over other spirits; and so on in every individual nation, for different purposes.  And thus it will be found that, of the various demons upon the earth, to whom different localities have been assigned, each one bears a name appropriate to the several dialects of place and country.  He, therefore, who has a nobler idea, however small, of these matters, will be careful not to apply differing names to different things; lest he should resemble those who mistakenly apply the name of God to lifeless matter, or who drag down the title of “the Good” from the First Cause, or from virtue and excellence, and apply it to blind Plutus, and to a healthy and well-proportioned mixture of flesh and blood and bones, or to what is considered to be noble birth.

Tuesdays with Blaster at Tree & The Seed: TMWAJ – Tracks 1 , 2, and 3

Go here for initial comments on album and the linear notes. 

Today’s installment is over the first (1st) three (3) tracks of Blaster the Rocket Man’s 1999 release, The Monster Who Ate Jesus.

Track 1 – Deploy All Monsters Now!

With hand clapping and chanting “Destroy-oi-hoy-oi-hoy!!!” this album begins. You tap your fingers; you nod your head; bloodflow quickens through your veins. (Is punk rock efficacious?) Transitioning into full band (guitar, bass, drums), the instrumentation continues to carry the tune with four/four beat and two chords, and it is masterfully catchy. Mapping the soundscape is a bit complicated because eventually music structure speeds up, chords change, and before long the song is running away like a train destined to derail . . . inevitable, eventually there is a  jangling of tonalities and broken rhythms, structure is lost and musical measure is made molten, the listener is pummeled by the feedback of electric guitar, etc., and then the song concludes with a simple bass guitar line, and over that bass line an excerpt is sung from For Science (originally performed by They Might Be Giants).

Destroy! [repeat, etc.]
.  .  .
I will date the girl from Venus
Flowers die and so will I
Yes, I will kiss the girl from Venus for science!

This is a great song. This is a great Track 1. A great way to kickstart an album. Blaster draws the listener in with familiarity but then introduces tension and offset the initial coherence with mystery (both musically and lyrically). Call me a sucker, but I am hooked!

Track 2 It Came from Down South

This track is an instrumental. Western, chink-a-chink rhythm guitar and hand-claps (with bass and drums, obviously), which is then offset with a simple and infectious guitar lead. It will make you dance and smile.

Track 3 – Hopeful Monsters are Dying Everyday

A punk-rock (Ramones feeling, somewhat) tune with vocal vibrato. The oscillating voice really grips you, especially the repetitious “bodies, bodies!” The song is short and sweet . . . less than a minute and a half long. Overall, music is strong but it is the lyrics that are absolutely fantastic.

We’re all hoping for a beneficial mutation
in our bodies, bodies
Beyond adaptation or variation
of our bodies, bodies
We wanna’ take the next step
We wanna’ transcend, but
Hopeful monsters are dying everyday

We wanna’ breed the new breed
of bodies, bodies
Searching for a mate
who’ll thwart the state
that is the fate of our bodies, bodies
They say if anyone can
The “superman” can
Still hopeful monsters are dying!

New creatures in Christ
inherit bodies glorified
yet we carry in our bodies
the Death of Jesus
which is the hope
of life eternal

The hope of glory
We hope in God

Take up and listen!

Training Pastors

My undergrad alma mater (Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN) just rolled out a five-year blended B.S./M.A. program for training pastors. B.S. or B.A. course work would be completed the first 3 years and the M.A. course work the last 2 years, with the final year’s course work completed while ministering in a local church under the supervision of an assigned pastor.

That is the key. The local church has to be meaningfully involved with training pastors. Kudos, IWU.

This sounds like a great program. When IWU launched their Seminary a few years ago they were very innovative–the program required students to be engaged either in part-time or full-time ministry within context of the local church. I’m glad they’ve found a way to compress the overall time it takes to train ministers without compromising involvement in local church.

An Introduction to Systematic Theology – Van Til – Chap. 3

Notes on Preface and Chap. 1.
Notes on Chap. 2.

Chapter 3 – Christian Epistemology

What is the function of reason in Christian theology? Non-Christians fail to account for the effects of the fall upon human reason. These are the noetic effects of sin; the effects of sin upon our thinking and our minds. Human thinking, human reasoning do not exist as an “entity apart from God.” Non-Christians error because they think human reasoning is a valid starting point.

What is the object of our knowledge? “If we hold with Paul (Rom. 11:36) that ‘of him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever,’ we see clearly that the existence and meaning of every fact in this universe must in the last analysis be related to the self-conscious and eternally self-subsistent God of the Scriptures” (58). So, the only way our thinking and reasoning will make any sense is if we remember that, “to have coherence in our experience, there must be a correspondence of our experience to the eternally coherent experience of God. Human knowledge ultimately rests upon the internal coherence within the Godhead; our knowledge rests upon the ontological Trinity as its presupposition” (59).

What is the subject of our knowledge? Nothing is mysterious for God, for “God as the absolute Light is back of the facts of the universe. We hold that the atom [insert any mysterious thing about reality] is mysterious for us, but not for God. . . . non-Christian thought argues that, because man cannot comprehend something in its knowledge, to that extend his knowledge is not true. Christians say that we as creatures do not need to and should not expect to comprehend anything fully. God comprehends fully, and that is enough for us. God’s full comprehension gives validity to our partial comprehension.” Van Til continues by relating this to Christian worship: “When a Christian sees the atom surrounded by mystery, he worship God; when the non-Christian scientist sees the atom surrounded by mystery, he worship the void” (61).

Creator. Creature. Acknowledge you are the latter, or kick against the goads and attempt to be the former: “All men are either in covenant with Satan or in covenant with God” (68). Those who are in covenant with God have their “Adamic consciousness restored and supplemented, but restored and supplemented in principle or standing only” (69). Those who are in covenant with God “confess their ethical depravity” and can “discern spiritual good” because God has regenerated them.

So, what is the place of reason in theology? (And we ask this question understanding that there is a difference between the thinking and mind of a Christian and non-Christian, a difference between those in covenant with God and those in covenant with Satan, a difference between those regenerated with the Adamic consciousness restored and supplemented and those with their fallen, depraved, and non-regenerate consciousness that is not restored and is without supplement.) God is changing our minds so that “every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” and “we use our minds, our intellect, our reason, our consciousness in order to receive and reinterpret the revelation God has given of himself in Scripture. That is the proper place of reason in theology. There is no conflict between this reason and faith since faith is the impelling power that urges reason to interpret aright” (69).