12 July 2010

July snippets

  • My esteemed friend and colleague, Jonathan Chaplin, is in Comment again with an interesting take on the current direction of the British Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron: "From Big State to Big Society": Is British Conservatism becoming Christian Democratic? Here's the opening paragraph:
    They don't know it—or if they do, they're not saying—but the British Conservative Party has begun to adopt the language of the political vision characteristic of postwar European Christian Democracy (CD). The vision has many strands, but one of its signature ideas is that the point of the state isn't to manage or direct society's individual and institutional energies itself, but rather to guarantee public conditions in which those energies can both flourish independently and contribute to the common good.

  • Here's the latest culinary innovation for the discriminating palate: Sandwich in a Can: The Candwich. Bon appetit!

  • This just in from Garden Grove, California, home of the Crystal Cathedral: Retiring pastor, the Rev. Robert Schuller, will be replaced in the pulpit by his daughter, the Rev. Sheila Schuller Coleman. The Crystal Cathedral is apparently a congregation of the Reformed Church in America, although one searches its website in vain for some indication of this affiliation.

  • And now from the BBC comes this report: Russians convicted and fined over Forbidden Art show. Canada too has laws against inciting hatred, but it would be very surprising indeed if our courts were to issue a similar ruling under similar circumstances.

  • Meanwhile, Swiss authorities are refusing to extradite a convicted sex offender to the United States, which has sought him for more than three decades. I now regret having rooted, however quietly, for Switzerland in the recent World Cup match.

  • A century after his death, Mark Twain's autobiography is finally being published, including much material that may shock his fans. The New York Times reports:
    Twain’s opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.

  • First Things' "other" blog, First Thoughts, has FT editors listing the ten worst hymns and the ten best hymns. Whether this is a useful exercise is up to readers to judge. What is lacking is a set of criteria by which to judge what constitutes good and bad hymns. I note that most of the worst hymns are of recent Catholic origin, while the best have been around for a long time and are mostly of Reformed or Lutheran provenance. Are we perhaps seeing creeping protestant influence in an otherwise Catholic-leaning journal? Or could it be that the protestant hymns are more catholic than the Catholic ones?

  • I am flattered to note that Darryl Hart, over at Old Life Reformed Faith and Practice, has a David Koyzis tag to attach to relevant posts. It's a good thing that our pastor last sunday preached on the deadly sin of pride; otherwise I might be tempted to allow the circumference of my noggin to expand by just a few centimetres. Incidentally, why "old" life? Isn't the christian faith about living the new life in Christ? Just a question.

    Dave Deavel said...

    Why would you be surprised the worst hymns are recent Catholic ones--they were all written in the secularized Post-Vatican II atmosphere in which hymns were confused with showtunes. The Reformed and Lutheran hymns of long-ago were more Catholic by far. But take a number of Brian Wren songs from the last 30 years and I'm betting you could find some pretty wretched Protestant ones.

    David Koyzis said...

    I am the first to admit that Catholics were not responsible for Shine, Jesus, Shine.


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