The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Commentary”

Book Review – The Authenticity Hoax

reviewed by Justin Dillehay

Authenticity_Hoax_FNL_cvrOrganic food. Samuel Adams. Mud-floors. Vintage Levi’s. What do they all have in common? According to philosopher Andrew Potter: authenticity. People eat, imbibe, walk on, and wear these things in an effort to be “real.” Potter views this so-called authenticity as a reaction to modernity, describing it as a “rejection of the various tributaries of mass society’s current, including the media, marketing, fast food, party politics, the Internet, and—above all—the program of free markets and economic integration usually derided as ‘globalization’” (8). In the space of 273 fascinating and often hilarious pages, Potter analyzes the history, meaning, and manifestations of authenticity, ranging from Jean Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century to Oprah Winfrey in the 21st. Through it all, Potter concludes that authenticity is a hoax; a “dopey nostalgia for a non-existent past, a one-sided suspicion of the modern world, and stagnant and reactionary politics masquerading as something personally meaningful and socially progressive” (270).

For me, Potter’s most helpful (and entertaining) insight is that authenticity is a form of one-upmanship and status-seeking; an effort not to be real, but to be different. If everyone starts listening to the Avett Brothers, the truly authentic will drop them like last month’s YouTube sensation (they must be sell-outs anyway). If Wal-Mart starts placing organic food within the financial reach of the hoi polloi, this is cause—not for rejoicing—but for anti-capitalist consternation (129). Once indie bands and organic food lose their ability to distinguish the authentic from the rabble, the truly authentic move on in search of substitutes, like locally grown food. All this and more in a chapter entitled “Conspicuous Authenticity,” a term Potter adapts from economist Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. Read more…

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10 Bread Symbols In the Bible You Should Know

By Steve Macias

A post about bread? You butter believe it. No bun intended. It’s a Manna-festo. 😉

Bread

Both the Old and New Testaments include lots of references to bread: Jesus was born in the “house of bread” – Bethlehem, bread is central to the ritual Jesus himself prescribes to the church, and even takes a clause in the Lord’s prayer. We “knead” to be familiar with the Bible’s use of bread. (Last pun, I promise.) Symbolism is important because it shapes how we understand God.

“The universe and everything in it symbolizes God. That is, the universe and everything in it points to God. This means that the Christian view of the world is and can only be fundamentally symbolic. The world does not exist for its own sake, but as a revelation of God.” [2]

Read more…

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To Be With Christ

by Marc Hays

Earlier this year I was sick. I slept most of a Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I tried to redeem some of the time by listening to a few lectures on my ipod. Shortly after beginning to listen, my six-year-old son, Seth, came into the bedroom and asked to lie down beside me. I told him that he could and rolled over on my side. He laid himself down behind me and began to rub my back. For the next three hours, Seth did nothing except spend time with me. He would periodically rub my back and ask if it felt good. Sometimes he would watch the clock countdown on the ipod and tell me how many minutes that I had left in a particular lecture. He didn’t need toys, books, or movies to keep him occupied, because he was completely occupied by simply being with me.

I remember reading once that Jonathan Edwards recommended using a time of illness as an opportunity for self-examination. This should come as no surprise; there weren’t many periods in one’s life that Edwards did not recommend as being appropriate times for self-examination. He said that one should not see the illness as a direct result of one’s sin, but wasting the time spent flat on your back would be foolish.

Christ in the House of Mary and MarthaSo there I lay–flat on my back, receiving the undivided attention of my son, examining myself, and realizing that I am much more like Martha than I am like Mary. I need purposes, goals, aspirations–something to “do” to show my love. Give me a schedule or a deadline, and I can prove that I mean business. But like Mary, Seth knows of a better way to show devotion. He can just sit at my feet, or lie beside me as it were, because he loves me. Where I am, is where he wants to be.

Paul told the Philippians that for him to remain in the flesh meant fruitful labor, but to depart and be with Christ was far better. When it comes to “fruitful labor”, I know how to keep a day jam-packed with profitable things, but Paul taught us that the better thing is “to be with Christ”. I don’t think I’ve begun to understand “being with Christ”. Maybe I can begin to see by remembering the guileless attention of my son, who paid his father the highest honor imaginable by simply wanting to be with him.

Pope Francis and Redeemed Atheists

by Adam McIntosh

You may have heard the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’ remarks on the redemption of atheists and other non-Christians. To many Catholics and Protestants alike, they were startling to say the least.

…the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in our heart: Do good and do not do evil. The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, with everyone doing his own part; if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of meeting: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good! We shall meet there.”

The Lord has redeemed everyone, even those who reject him? How can this be? Is Francis showing another example of theological and ecclesiastical liberalism? While some say yes, many Catholics came to the Pope’s defense and attempted to prove that he was simply stating what the Roman Catholic Church has always taught. The Catholic World Report published an article listing other popes, Scripture verses, and sections of their catechism making similar remarks about the general redemption of mankind. Additionally, Romans 5:18-19 can be used to support this idea: Read more…

Universal Healthcare, Universal Drone Strikes

by Adam McIntosh

Who else remembers the progressive-liberal movement displaying such moral outrage towards George W. Bush because of the “war on terror” and his unconstitutional invasion of Iraq? We’re talking impeachment-level outrage. Bush was deemed a war criminal worthy of imprisonment. He was condemned for passing the Patriot Act, a bill that essentially repeals the fourth amendment. Celebrities made a mockery of him and thousands upon thousands of protesters gathered all over the world in defense of peace and the rule of law.

The anti-Bush hysteria certainly included independents, libertarians and constitutionalists, but the majority aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. Riding the coattails of the anti-war movement was Senator Barack Obama, identifying himself as one who was against unconstitutional wars and the Patriot Act. He promised to bring the troops home from Iraq within the first year of his presidency. This sealed his White House victory quite easily. The movement had finally found their man. So, where aantiwarleftre they now?
Read more…

Mobile Church Added to Russian Military

by Adam McIntosh

Russia has added a new unit to its military: a parachuting, mobile church – complete with priest, deacon, and an iconostasis. The purpose of this flying cathedral is to satisfy the spiritual demands of military personnel and to improve morale and discipline in military units.” The inflatable-tent-turned-cathedral can be dropped where needed to provide worship, prayer, and sacraments to soldiers engaged in war or those stationed away from an accessible parish. The following demonstration video is a must-see:

As silly as this may sound to some, I personally think it is a great concept. Now, this is not an approval of the Russian government as a whole, nor am I condoning all practices of the Russian Orthodox Church. I’m not even saying that civil governments should be involved in such programs. But I think it shows two things. First, it shows a great contrast between Christianity in Russia and Christianity in the United States. While the U.S. military burns Bibles and labels Christianity an extremist group, Russia is making Christian worship a part of its foreign policy. While the U.S. supports Christian-killing rebels in Syria, Russia seeks to protect Syrian Christians by not supporting the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. And while the U.S. gets closer to nationalizing gay marriage each day, Russia outlaws homosexual propaganda. Read more…

Time Magazine Names Rand Paul Most Influential

by Adam McIntosh

Time Magazine has named Rand Paul among the 100 most influential people in the world. This comes at no surprise given the level of attention Paul has garnered during his service in the U.S. Senate. The media loves controversy and Paul is certainly no stranger to it. Whether it is over balanced budgets, civil rights, airport security, military intervention or protecting children from murder, he is not afraid to defend his moral and constitutional convictions. The sad part is that such convictions are considered controversial in the first place. The good part is that Paul is recognized as having an influence on the nation. Under his listing in the magazine, Sarah Palin writes: randtime

…Sen. Rand Paul is a voice of reason awakening the public to what must be done to restore our prosperity and preserve the blessings of liberty for future generations. His brand of libertarian-leaning conservatism attracts young voters, and recently he inspired the nation with his Capraesque filibuster demanding basic answers about our use of drones.”

In the last two days Paul has questioned John Kerry on foreign aid and Janet Napolitano on airline security. I doubt he’ll get very far in convincing those two of anything. But if he can inspire young people and evangelical conservatives like Palin, then perhaps we can look for his influence to be most evident in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. For all our sakes, let’s hope so!  Read more…

Understanding the Puritans

The scholarly study of the Puritans has been marked in recent years by attempts to understand them in a fully transatlantic context. This follows a broader trend in early American history to focus on “Atlantic world” perspectives, rather than proto-national American ones. While others could view this de-emphasizing of the future United States as ideologically dubious, I think it is a sanguine development for understanding the Puritans in their own places and time. ~ Thomas S Kidd, PhD Read more…

Party Beside the Empty Tomb!

Easter is gone, right? Actually Easter has just begun! The Easter Season lasts for 50 days. It is glorified in the PENT-ecost season. According to the Christian Calendar, Easter lasts until May 19th (Pentecost Sunday). But didn’t we spend ourselves bodily and spiritually this past Lord’s Day? If that’s the case, stir yourselves unto good works. The party has just begun!

We–who are liturgically minded–tend to carefully attend to the Lenten and Advent Calendar, but yet we forget that apart from the Resurrection Lent and Advent would not make any sense. After all, what are we expecting? A virgin birth to a son who would simply die at the age of 33? What are we expecting? A perpetually closed tomb? A sight for annual pilgrimages to Israel?

I am suggesting we need to stock up in our champagne bottles. Every Sunday meal needs to start with the popping of a champagne bottle. “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! POP! “Children, that’s the sound of victory!”

For every day of Easter, set aside a little gift for your little ones or your spouse. We set 100 Easter eggs aside for our two oldest children and let them open them up each day. Other traditions can be added, of course. We indulge in Easter hymnody and Psalmnody.  Easter is no time to get back to business as usual, it’s time to elevate the party spirit.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for these next 46 days:

First, for evening family readings, meditate specifically on the Resurrection account and the post-resurrection accounts. Digest every detail of the gospels, and also allow St. Paul to add his resurrection theology in I Corinthians 15.

Second, teach one another the art of hope. We live in a hopeless culture. We walk around with little enthusiasm for what God is doing in our midst. We also don’t believe that God is changing us and conforming us to the image of His son. We need to–especially in this season–to rejoice more with those who rejoice and encourage more those who weep with the hope granted to us in the Resurrection of our Messiah.

Third, invest in changing your community. Ask your pastor in what ways can you be more fruitful in your service to the congregation. Consider also your neighbors. Do you know them? If you do, how many have been in your homes for a meal or a drink, or simply to talk?

Fourth, play Easter music in your home and in the office. Here are some selections of great CDs or MP3’s.

Finally, avoid the introspective rituals that are so prevalent in our Christian culture. Do not allow doubts to overtake you. Think of your Triune baptism. Trust in Christ fervently. Allow the Covenant of Grace to shape your identity. The resurrection of Jesus was the confirmation that those in Christ are made for glory. Look to Jesus and serve Jesus by serving others. By doing so, you will not grow weary in doing well, and you will learn to party beside the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen!

Uri Brito is a pastor and a lover of good parties!

How Now Shall We Blog?

In a very refreshing and convicting piece by Ed Eubanks Jr. at ByFaithOnline, he walks through the ethics of blogging. He criticizes his own denomination (PCA) for being the genesis of many of these blogging wars. Eubanks observes that PCA pastors have through blogging caused great division and presbyterial chaos through their uncharitable posts.

In response, he considers Schaeffer’s question How Now Shall We Then Live and applies to it to the Christian blogging community. And then sets a Scriptural standard that is to be applied not only in our personal face-to-face encounters, but also in our faceless interactions on-line:

What should be the tone and approach of our blog posts and Twitter comments? Paul writes, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Do our blog posts demonstrate humility and gentleness? Are they a clear exercise of patience and bearing with one another in love? Are they constructed in such a way as to maintain unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?

My guess is many bloggers who followed this text– as it should be followed– would have to do a general clean-up of their blogs today. It is not that there is no room for healthy debate and discussion, but the tone of these debates and discussions is what is at stake.

As someone who has blogged for over a decade, I have done my share of damage and pugilistic posts. I have repented of them and I have erased many posts (the delete option is there for a reason). I have a process that I go through on my longer posts where I check not only grammar, but also tone. Would that wordpress provided that feature!

As we enter into the brightness of the Easter Season, we need to be reminded in this Lenten Season that our words are powerful ways of communicating who we are. Since the possibility of misunderstanding abounds, we need to be even more careful in how we write. The 9th commandments is not just for personal affairs, it is comprehensive for all affairs. We are what we write, and we write what we are.

Uri Brito is a blogging veteran and a lover of charitable discourse.

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