31 August 2011
24 August 2011
09 August 2011
Mark O. Hatfield (1922-2011)
U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon enjoyed a long political career extending over nearly half a century, although many of the positions he took on specific issues were quite controversial, especially his early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam. Hatfield explicitly claimed to vote in accordance with his convictions whether or not his constituents always agreed. Nevertheless, Oregon voters continually re-elected him, twice as state Governor and five times as Senator, not because he followed their wishes, but because he acted on principle and in so doing earned their continued respect. Refusing to bow the knee to the god of popular sovereignty is not necessarily a recipe for political failure. On the contrary, many citizens prefer to vote for someone willing to stand on principle.
May Senator Hatfield rest in peace until the resurrection and may the LORD see fit to raise up principled statesmen and stateswomen in his place.
05 August 2011
Church decline across the pond
An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland. It is part of the mainstream Dutch Protestant Church, and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord's Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse's sermon seems bleak - "Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get". "Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death," Mr Hendrikse says. "No, for me our life, our task, is before death."
Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing. "When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that's where it can happen. God is not a being at all... it's a word for experience, or human experience."
Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible's account of Jesus's life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.
Much as a vibrant Puritanism had turned to unitarianism within a century of the settlement of New England, so has Kuyper's Gereformeerd community been largely assimilated into the Dutch mainline Protestantse Kerk, which, though pockets of vitality definitely exist within it, is far from being a confessional church.
However, the story is not over, and signs were already present four years ago that secularism in the Netherlands may be running its course. This Weekly Standard article is cause for hope: Holland's Post-Secular Future. Whenever we are tempted to despair over the apparent progress of secularism, we need only recall that ultimately it cannot satisfy. As St. Augustine put it so well, our hearts are restless until they find rest in the One who alone can provide it.