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Yours portly is going High Protestant this week. Readers can thank Audre Myers for that one—she sent me the manuscript for her church’s new chant, “Venite, exultemus Domino,” at some point in the last few weeks, and I’ve been playing around with it on the piano.
Being one of three brothers who came of age in the 1990s—the golden age of watching ribald, edited-for-television comedies on basic cable—I was constantly exposed to humorous quips and one-liners from hilarious movies. One perennial favorite was the raunchy (again, edited for television) comedy classic Caddyshack (1980), about a bunch of blue-collar kids working at a tony country club’s golf course (and Bill Murray trying to blow up a gopher).
My brothers and I still reference one brief but oft-quoted scene:
Judge Smails irate handling of his ingrate nephew is a classic, and something I have probably said to a student. My older brother loves saying it to my younger brother’s kids, who, while not rotten, and definitely spoiled (a good bit by their Uncle Portly).
My older nephew, is nearly six, likes to invert the phrase, shouting at his other uncle, “You’ll get everything and not like it.” It’s one of his many (unintentionally?) Zen utterances.
I was contemplating this amusing bit of familial banter on the way to work yesterday. My sweet little nephew is right—we Westerners do have everything—and we’re miserable!
It’s the so-called “spooky season” again, which naturally turns my mind to things not seen. Lately, I’ve been pondering the pre-modern mind, and how differently pre-moderns saw the world. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around it. What must it have been like to fear God—naturally (as in, without the scientistic arrogance we moderns seem inculcated into at an early age)? To suspect mercurial forces at play in every tree or lonely bog?
There’s so much we don’t know; so much we can’t see (even if it’s caught on video). Ironically, for all of our assuredness about how the world works, we find ourselves in an age of constant epistemological confusion, one in which we seem incapable of knowing what is True or not.
Heady contemplations, indeed. The possible existence of Bigfoot or any other number of odd creatures, corporeal or otherwise, is not insignificant: if supernatural beings exist, God Exists (or, more probably, because God Exists, there are all manner of spirits and angels and the like at work, just beyond our perception).
There is something appealing about possessing some bit of secret knowledge or trivia that is unknown to everyone, save a select few “initiates” fortunate enough to partake in the mysteries. The seductive allure of secret knowledge—or of just being “in-the-know” about some microniche subculture—seems to be a part of human nature.
We’d like to think in our modern age that we’re not superstitious sorts, but we are haunted everywhere. Scientists have elevated themselves to the level of priests in a cult of scientism, worshipping the emptiness of nihilistic materialism just as the pagans worshipped lifeless idols. Both are made of stuff—hard, material, unfeeling, insensate stuff—and both are equally empty.
But we here on the Right can fall prey to Gnostic fantasies as well. The Libertarian dreams of a utopia in which everyone engages in frictionless free exchanges and all uncomfortable disputes are settled with cash and self-interest. He’s as materialist and deluded as the mask-wearing mandatory vaxxer preaching loudly from the Church of Scientism. The hyper-nationalist dreams of some impossible ethnostate that never really existed in the first place. And so on.
Still, it’s seductive, the idea that we can possess the knowledge of good and evil, of true Reality. After all, that’s the original sin, isn’t, it? Eve, then Adam, could not resist the allure of being—so they were told, dishonestly—like God. But even—perhaps, especially–Christians can fall into this trap.
Regardless, it yielded “Counting Blessings,” a post giving thanks for God’s many blessings in my life. It’s rather serendipitous that I stumbled upon this post again the other day, because the theme of counting one’s blessings is one I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately.
Life is going well enough for yours portly (I’d better not say that too loudly!). Work is clipping along and I’m hustling big time with lessons. I have a great (and godly) girlfriend, dog, and house, and a supportive family. Things could be worse.
For the past month (roughly) I’ve been dedicating my mornings to Bible study. I became very negligent about spending time in God’s Word over the past school year—and, really, over the past few years—so I have been doing my part to mend my relationship with Him and to immerse myself in His Word.
I’m pleased to report that, so far, I have largely stuck with it, only rarely missing a day’s reading. I started simply: reading through Proverbs. A very common Bible study tactic is to read one chapter of Proverbs a day; in thirty-one days, or one month, you’ll have read the entire book. I adapted that slightly, sometimes reading a couple of chapters a day. As June has only thirty days, and I started late, I managed to end the month with Proverbs 31.
After finishing Proverbs, I realized I needed to expand my reading further. To that end, here is my current reading schedule each morning:
Three chapters of Psalms (with 150 chapters, it should take fifty days to get through Psalms, although Psalms 119 might be its own day)
One chapter of Proverbs, corresponding with the date (for example, this morning I will read Proverbs 12)
One chapter of Isaiah, also corresponding with the date until I get to Isaiah 32 on 1 August 2022, at which point I’ll keep reading one chapter a day until I have completed the book (again, this morning I’ll read Isaiah 12)
A New Testament passage from a little “read-the-New-Testament-in-one-year” Bible someone gave me years ago (today’s passage will be Romans 1:1-17)
In total, it takes me anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour to complete this reading, as I try to read slowly and take notes in the margins (I also start readings with thorough prayer time with God, praying prayers of thanksgivings to Him; praying specific prayer requests; and praying for His Hand in my life and my budding relationship) and if I see connections to other Scriptures—which is happening more and more frequently lately—I will take time to note the parallels and tie them back.
Now that summertime is here, I’m using the bit of extra, unstructured time to try to develop some good habits. This past school year was pretty brutal, between a heavy load of classes and up to twenty lessons a week. I was thankful for the income from lessons and for the security of work, but it really took its toll as the academic year wore on.
Unfortunately, one of the first things I let go was daily Bible study. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been spotty about reading the Bible daily. I’m often more interested in listening to someone else’s commentary on God’s Word than reading it for myself, as if I’m a medieval Catholic.
But there’s no substitute for the real thing—daily Bible reading and study. So I’ve established a routine now that summer is here, and it’s really helped me keep on track.
“God loves music. He invented it.” Thus begins Bette Cox‘s wonderful piece—aptly titled “God loves music“—about music and its divine origins.
As a lover of music myself, I’ve long believed that the existence of music—that certain frequencies together create consonant harmonies and beautiful textures, that the mere manipulation of sound waves can become a transcendent whole greater than the sum of its physical parts—is proof positive that God Exists. How could something so precise and so beautiful emerge from a chaotic Nothing? Unless we’re including twentieth-century German Expressionism, it couldn’t.
Bette’s piece went up earlier this week on her blog Esther’s Petition, and it is a must-read. She points out the ultimate purpose of music: to glorify God, to worship Christ. She also dives into the endless variety of music, and how a single song could keep a composer occupied for eternity.
The most poignant part of her piece, however, is a “mini-vision,” in which a throng of singers and instrumentalists of every stripe arrive to sing for an “audience of one: Jesus.”
Well, here we are—that time of year when every corporation changes its logo into a rainbow format to avoid the persecution of people who define their entire identities based on which body part they want to stick into which hole. God have mercy on us all.
Wouldn’t it be great if corporations pretended to love Christianity, like in the good old days? Better yet, they could actually be Christian. I guess Hobby Lobby, My Pillow, and Chick-Fil-A will have to do.
One casualty of our fascination with buggery—besides the kids groomed into “alternative” lifestyles and exposed to men in dresses reading them children’s books—is the rainbow, a symbol of God’s Promise never to flood the Earth again.
Rainbows are beautiful, but like everything the Left touches, they’ve been appropriated to represent something odious and sinful.