Saturday, September 28, 2013

But didn't Adam have a point? (Just asking)

But Luther's question was not whether his sins were big or little, but whether they had been confessed.  The great difficulty which he encountered was to be sure that everything had been recalled.  He learned from experience the cleverness of memory in protecting the ego, and he was frightened when after six hours of confessing he could still go out and think of something else which had eluded his most conscientious scrutiny.  Still more disconcerting was the discovery that some of man's misdemeanors are not even recognized, let alone remembered.  Sinners often sin without compunction.  Adam and Eve, after tasting of the fruit of the forbidden tree, when blithely for a walk in the cool of the day; and Jonah, after fleeing from the Lord's commission, slept soundly in the hold of the ship.  Only when each was confronted by an accuser was there any consciousness of guilt.  Frequently, too, when man is reproached he will still justify himself like Adam, who replied, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me" – as if to say to God, "She tempted me; you gave her to me; you are to blame."
There is, according to Luther, something much more drastically wrong with man than any particular list of offenses which can be enumerated, confessed, and forgiven. The very nature of man is corrupt.  The penitential system fails because it is directed to particular lapses.

-from Bainton's Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther, (Abingdon Press 1950, page 55)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"For God's Sake, Would You Stop That Coughing!"

On my 10 minute drive to the Metrorail station in the mornings, I'm usually listening to Classical South Florida, 89.7 FM.  The radio station is owned by the people who purchased WMCU from the rascals on the board of Trinity International University years ago, to the dismay of a large, South Florida evangelical audience that had supported the old station for many years, including myself.  That being said, WKCP Miami has proven itself to be first rate.

As I was listening this morning, John Zech, who is tops as an announcer, presented a recording by Julian Bream, the lutist.   It reminded me of a performance of his during my freshman year at Duke.  He played in Page Auditorium, the main auditorium.

The large crowd consisted not predominantly of Duke undergraduates but people from the much wider Duke and Durham community. It was cold outside, and people came in bundled up.

Bream began to play beautifully, of course, gently and with great care.  A sort of intimacy began to fall over the auditorium.  But then someone coughed in the audience.  As if that person gave others permission, coughing began to punctuate the performance.  It would have been a different  thing if the Philadelphia Symphony had been playing Beethoven, and you weren't sitting right by the hacker, but this was Julian Bream and his lute, all alone up there on the stage.  It was bad.

Finally, Bream had enough.  He stopped playing, looked at the audience, and said "For God's sake, would you stop that coughing!"

Absolute silence.  Bream went back to his lute as if nothing had happened.  Nobody moved.  Nobody coughed. Nobody did anything but listen, and with a bit of apprehension.  It was wonderful!

Every time I have attended a concert since then and heard the first cough, I think of Julian Bream and his lute.   Until just a few years ago, he was still giving concerts and producing recordings.  He certainly taught me something.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Miami-Dade English Dialect. Sounds like home to me!

"What's noteworthy about Miami English is that we're now in a third, even fourth generation of kids who are using these features of native dialect," said Florida International University sociolinguist Phillip Carter, who studies language in U.S. Latino communities. "So we're not talking — and let me be clear — we're not talking about non-native features. These are native speakers of English who have learned a variety influenced historically by Spanish."

-from Saturday's Miami Herald, an article well worth a read.

Supposuvly, it's not just an accent, it is a true dialect, irregardless of what you might think.

More from the article:

Miami has always been home to Latin American immigrants, but the first sizable wave arrived from Cuba during the 1960s, followed by the Mariel influx of the 1980s and then the balseros of the 1990s. They were joined by political refugees fleeing regimes in Nicaragua and Venezuela and by immigrants from Colombia and Mexico and other countries to the south.

Immigrants overwhelmed the city's population so quickly that before long children growing up in Miami were learning English from people who were not native English speakers themselves. This led to a number of nonnative features like Spanish vowels and "L" sounds being incorporated into the language.

The first sizable wave of Stokes kids arrived in the 70s and early 80s.  

On one of the first telephone calls from Macon after his arrival Freshman year at Davidson, he said, "Dad, I feel like a Cuban!"  I said, something like "you are a Cuban; you just happen to look like everyone else up there."

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Home as a Better School for Character than a Monastery

After [Luther's] marriage his tone shifted and his concern was much less to establish the necessity of marriage [in light of the otherwise "uncontrollable" sexual impulse] than to portray the home as a school for character.  In this sense it was for him a substitute for the monastery.  All the vexations of domesticity, the tension of the sexes, bawling babies, and of disobedient children led him to say there is no need to go hunting for crosses.  At the same time he was often lyrical over the consolations of the married state.

-Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, pages 256 - 258.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Let's Not Forget Cranmer's Wife

Henry [VIII] for all his effrontery was not unmoved by the unrest among the populace, and the intransigence among the distinguished.  He resolved to hew all the more closely to the line of schism without heresy, and in the latter part of his reign enacted the Six Articles popularly called the "bloody whip with the six strings" whereby a denial of the real presence was visited with death and clerical marriage was forbidden.  Archbishop Cranmer, who had married the niece of one of the Continental reformers, was compelled during this period to keep his wife at home or when traveling to conceal her in a chest; when it was turned upside down she was somewhat inconvenienced – and ought to be included among the minor martyrs of the Reformation.

-more from Bainton's The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, Enlarged Edition, p. 198.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Calvinism and the Scots

Scotland was the name in Europe above all others in which Calvinism became most firmly entrenched  .  .  .  [I]n no other land did Calvinism effect so tremendous a change in the national character and the national destiny. 
Calvinism transformed the Scots.  In the Middle Ages they were a notoriously rough and disorderly people who preferred to raid rather than to raise cattle .  .  .    The Reformation changed all that.  The Scots were to become a different people and the alteration was effected by the new kirk armed with the Book of Discipline.
-The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, Bainton, Roland H. (Englarged Edition 1985), pages 178 and 179.  (Google has the book here, but less pages 183-248.)
I would venture the speculation that Reformed Christianity in China has been working a similar transformation since the 19th Century.  Would that God again open the Middle East to the Gospel.