by Andrea Elizabeth

So if Alvin Plantinga is a Christian philosopher who wrote a treatise on God, Freedom and Evil, but is also a Calvinist, can he be trusted?

Turns out, maybe, because he’s a Molinist.

Is this about the Vikings or Oliver Cromwell and the Reformers?

by Andrea Elizabeth

Psalm 73 (74) 

“4Those who hate You boasted in the midst of Your feast;

They set up their signs, yes signs, and they did not know.

5As into an entrance hall,

6As in a thicket of trees, they cut down its doors with axes;

With battle axes and hammers, they broke it down.

7They burned down Your sanctuary;

They defiled the tabernacle of Your name to the ground.

8Their kindred said in their heart together,

“Come, let us abolish all the feasts of God from the earth.”
Excerpt From: Nelson, Thomas. “NKJV, The Orthodox Study Bible, eBook.” HarperCollins Christian Publishing, 2014-09-19. iBooks. 

this is what i mean

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m too folksy for the Church

by Andrea Elizabeth

I exaggerate for the sake of the song. Being willing to so exaggerate does put me at odds with what people consider Tradition. Notice the capital T. I just got in a discussion on social media with a Traditionalist who defended using proper Greek terms for Church stuff. See I said stuff. Can holy things be stuff? What comes to mind for me, who am traditional*, is the 7th Ecumenical Council which said that icons should be displayed on roadways. I’ve heard people become scandalized at the idea of Orthodox icons on billboards. I agree with holding things sacred, but mainly in their proximity to the Church, specifically the alter. But from there on out is “degradation” as soon as the Communion enters my mouth. From there it starts touching everything on earth. It goes into the sewers and streams. This is why I don’t get bent out of shape at the idea of printing icons on paper publications, and for them even being thrown away in the common trash, though I do believe one should hesitate, sort of like how before we kill something or eat it we should, in the Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis Indian (this discussion made me think of using Indian [which are the most traditionally American] words instead of Greek words for holy things as they considered everything holy, unlike the Protestants who made religious words mean different things) way, thank God, the animal, and the trees who all died for our sustenance. God is everywhere and Jesus condescended to making waste himself, so to me he sanctified the landfills. We are to receive communion to take it out into the outermost corners of the world. To me it’s isolationism to have a secret holy language, even if it can be googled**. They say that even priest garments used to be the common dress of the day, so why should we only use the Greek Orthodox words for them? This is not to say that I want Priests to start wearing baggy, low slung jeans. That is the quandary I mentioned in my discussion. But if you remember the common context that these holy things had, then we can relate to them in a human, not Klingon, way.

* I suppose tradition for me is the spirit of the law and not just the letter. Capital T tradition is supposed to mean the non-negotiables of our faith and not the individual cultural manifestations. But to Traditionalists, they demand the 1700 year old Greek cultural manifestations, imo. Better that than 50 or 100 year old Protestant cultural manifestations, imo. But even these are better than Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, whose musical talent I can still recognize.

** People since the Reformation have been worried about Holy Texts being put in the common language, even though Latin used to be the common language. Even Orthodox have been worried about especially deeply monastic writings, like the Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent being put into unworthy hands and minds. I think more context for these writings should be discussed. What’s usually said is, “you’re not advanced enough for this” which offends egalitarian Americans. I don’t read them probably for 2 other reasons, laying aside that one. 1, I have a theory that monastic life is different. It necessarily entails a rejecting of family. Some families may be fine rejecting all wordly things as a group. But maybe teenage retention is a problem because they feel it is forced on them. Paul says it’s better to not get married because he concedes the world must be dealt with, not shunned, in that case. I have had a particularly monastic week at a monastery where it was very hard for me to come back to my family. I don’t engage in that anymore and consider not living that way a sacrificial thing. 2. It may be psychological for me. Or pride. But I feel better praising God instead of dwelling on penitential things all the time. I believe I have heard, even from Orthodox, that some people actually need to feel better about themselves rather than worse. That isn’t a blanket statement as everyone needs to come to grips with their own complicitness in sin, and eventually they may be able to accept only that, but baby steps.


Second post on the second chapter – on justification

by Andrea Elizabeth

in Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman. I have read 25% of this book, and this chapter goes to 37%. I have no page numbers on Kindle. Ok, I’m liking his definition of justification as participation with Christ through his crucifixion and resurrection. It’s not really fun to die to yourself, but I have never denied the need to do so.

I’m seeing a clearer contrast with the other definition of justification which is something that Christ performs by himself as a forensic statement of not guilty by only His own work on the cross satisfying God’s wrath. The evangelical happy dance at receiving a get out of jail free card never rang true for me. Instead it is the painful correcting of a twisted spine and shoulders (see the cross shape?) through diligent exercise. Even if you want to say Christ puts a harrington rod in your back (I just read they don’t use these anymore), it seems to me he doesn’t use very much anesthesia, and you do have to submit to treatment and renounce your crooked ways. Gorman says it’s not Pelagian, in that you can’t imitate Christ on your own (wwjd). That it is a task of submission, and submitting is the faith that is required. I’m pretty sure I’m still not going to agree with his non-violence at the end, and that if he doesn’t believe in sacraments being the necessary spiritual food, he’s still going to seem rather Pelagian. But I don’t think Pelagianism is virtueless. I could be wrong, but those eastern folks who live ascetically and prayerfully seem to have something, if not enough of it.


Who We Are

by Andrea Elizabeth

by Imagine Dragons has been my favorite song for more than a year. I don’t own it and till just now I never understood the words, (except “THEY SAY WE’RE CRA AA ZEE EE!” and “it’s all uphill from here”. I thought they were saying “doesn’t matter if it’s night or day” but they were saying “doesn’t matter if it’s not our day”. Either way it just sounds so great with good speakers. Why are my kids the ones always saying “Turn it down Mom!”). If I use the following video to memorize the real words I wonder if I’ll finally start to get tired of it like I have all the other songs I like in the world. I think I’ll read them just one more time to get better context but not enough to remove the mystery and thus the magic.

picking it back up

by Andrea Elizabeth

Michael Gorman agrees with me a bit more in Chapter 2 on justification. I just wish he had done more of the following in the first chapter on Christ’s humility.

We should, however, be careful about creating what may be – and I stress may be – false antitheses, such as divine initiative or human response, soteriology or ecclesiology, forensic declaration or participation, covenant or apocalyptic, boundary markers or moral effort, faith or obedience, obedience to death or sacrificial death, expiation or propitiation, crucifixion or resurrection, etc. [bold mine]

I think Orthodox would agree with

This rethinking [about justification] of Luther and other Reformers has shifted the emphasis in Reformation soteriology from declaration and legal fiction to real participation and even divinization – a term found even in Luther.

Gorman is still fixated on humble crucifixion only though and says that justification is participation in Christ’s crucifixion. He doesn’t want us to get falsely antithetical about it, but he is forcing a dialectic between that part of Christ’s obedience (unto death) and the Orthodox teaching that we are saved by and participate in every part of His life. We have to be born again, not only die. We have to be baptized with Him, be transfigured, everything. But he’s on the right track. I bet he’s a Wesleyan Methodist.

Tell me why

by Andrea Elizabeth

I need to know why. In my region the answer is the Brazos. I think. I live south of town but I cross the Brazos watershed line to traffic with humans. My dealings with people are in the Trinity watershed, but my heart is in the Brazos. My stillborn son, Isaac, is buried in the Brazos watershed west northwest of my house. Perhaps some of his molecules entered the ocean from there. If I were to resurrect him, maybe I’d have to canoe that way to find traces. But Possum Kingdom Lake is upstream from the cemetery and that is the northern boundary of my interest. The Brazos watershed goes up to the New Mexico Rockies, but upstream from PK lake is foreign to me. The southern boundary to me is Lake Whitney, around Waco, even though the river flows to the Gulf of Mexico. My turf is western central Texas. I like the Colorado and Pecos basins next. West of Austin, though the Colorado also flows to the ocean. My interest in the Pecos is from Ft. Davis to where it terminates in the Rio Grande, Judge Roy Bean’s turf. This area does not include Amarillo, Lubbock, or Midland to the west, nor East Texas nor Houston – the oil areas. My areas are thinly grassed cattle ranches with rugged hills, and even mountains if you include Big Bend, which I do. It’s named for the big bend in the Rio Grande that give Texas it’s elbow. I kind of like ranches but they may be more of a con in this area because of the overgrazing that made it even less grassy. And the barbed wire. If there’d been less people and less greed, I would have liked the shortlived free range cattle drivers’ impact on the land. But wouldn’t buffalo have suited better? They mostly stayed in the plains of the panhandle though.

Maybe it’s the aspergers in me that likes the unspoiled natural landscape better than the populated areas. What I like about them is the stability. People live so short and change their mind and move so much. The rocks are the only really stable, local inhabitants. But they have slowly changed because of the rivers. The rivers also change because of sediment deposits and erosion. It’s a constant tension between rocks and water. The stable banks of the river are the rocky hills, and the looser banks are the flood plains on the other side.

Back to Isaac. He didn’t flow upstream to PK lake, and he probably flowed past Whitney, so why the concentration between them? He touched the water let loose from PK lake, and maybe he was more confined by the Whitney dam than the Granbury one. The town of Granbury is built really close to the lake’s edge, so the dam lets more water out to maintain a constant level.

I can’t move from this section of the Brazos River Basin. I’d be leaving Isaac behind. What about my other kids? They don’t want me to move from this house, so I have their permission. Dostoyevsky’s Zosima says don’t forget your other kids. Why was the mother so drawn to her dead baby? One, death of a baby goes against a mother’s anatomy. Baby nurturing is what our bodies are all about. The rest of child-rearing is a gradual series of letting go. To have it cut off abruptly at the woman’s most secretory stage is a violence beyond bearing. Truly. It’s what makes things like the Grand Canyon happen. But the Grand Canyon is beautiful. Ripped up humans not so much. Why do people love to post videos and pictures of ripped up humans heroically coping so much? I’d rather see Palo Duro Canyon, the only respite from those lifeless, rockless, flat Texas plains. I suppose the broken rocks and exposed sedimentary layers that somehow have survived the rain give me hope. They aren’t crippled, they aren’t stoically overcoming, they are just being where and how they are.

The second reason women are so attached to their dead babies, besides the breaking of the most attached relationship in humankind, is that babies are holy. Even though the dead ones break their mothers’ hearts, they will always be innocently attached before the world and hormones tear them apart.

I’ve heard that there’s some dislocated rocks in America’s northern plains that are miles and miles away from their associated crops. Perhaps a melted glacier dam broke suddenly and swept them down. I feel bad for those rocks and want to bring them back to their families.

Ancestry showed I have 99% roots in the UK and Western Europe. But perhaps the mass that all moved to the south and then west conglomerating from me to the west to Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi were enough of a cohesive upheaval that it compares more to plate tectonics than to abduction. Feels that way. I’m a first generation Texan, and I do have genetic memories of the Old South, but they are with the past and the trees that remember, not the grass that fades. But the thin grass of my zone remembers and survived the cows. I have one clump of long blue grass near a cedar tree in my front field that I love. Last year someone mowed it down before it could make flowers and I’m afraid it may be extinct.

Why don’t I love the azaleas, dogwoods, and lush grass of the southeast? They have it too easy. The sun and wind haven’t beaten them to dust. They don’t have seeds that lay dormant for years until a 7 year rainy season. The late rainy season that swells a few thick rings in the gnarly oak trees. Do I want it to rain more than it does in west Texas? Yes. Because the terrain is unnaturally suppressed by the cattle overgrazing. Its life is a delicate balance that was tipped to dry. It needs a little more tipping to wet. And the seeds are just waiting. But the rocks don’t want it to rain too much. The Palo Pinto mountains probably saw violence, and it left it’s mark that I don’t want to be erased. Too much rain will cover it up.

The Force Awakens rewatch

by Andrea Elizabeth

It just occurred to me that all the white males in this movie are losers and the winners are non-white or female. I googled “Force Awakens white males” and yes, it’s a thing. I’m still going to watch the new series because I’m not prejudiced against non white non males. Though for some reason I’m not into Po’s character. It feels contrived and like hey, if you liked Luke you’ll like me. Not so much. Probably because he wasn’t introduced as thoroughly as Luke was. He’s just “the best pilot”. So? Anyhow, surely they wont make Luke continue to be a loser in the next episodes.

I’m catching some of the National Park documentaries on PBS on this fine Resurrection day. It is hard to listen to the white exclusivity in the rich movers and shakers of the early 20th Century. But reverse prejudice just because of skin color and gender sounds like revenge too late. In dealing with slavery and native genocide it’s hard to know what to do with the descendants. On one hand they had nothing to do with it. On the other there are some lingering effects that they inherited. On someone else’s hand there is something about being a representative species. We can’t help but remember how horses bore our burdens when we deal with their individual descendants today. It affects how we treat them. We do want to apologize and respect them for it even though they may never have known hardship. Things are connected. But I don’t think we need to make people pull wagons and carry heavy horses on their backs to fix the past or even fix lingering demeaning treatment. But you can’t say punishment is wrong in general either. There is something to poetic justice. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

PTSD people are not amused

by Andrea Elizabeth

He almost convinced me here

Some may object to the notion of a cruciform God and argue that in the discussion of God’s holiness, we cannot forget God’s majesty and power. Here John Webster is helpful, because he rightly defines God’s holiness, not as pure majesty, but as “majesty in relation.” Because God’s majesty and God’s relationality cannot be separated, we must understand God’s majesty in light of God’s revealed relationality. We do not simply hold the majesty and relationality of God in tension; with Paul, we must see them in convert, a unison revealed in the power of the cross. God is not a god of power and weakness but the God of power in weakness. As Webster also reminds us, we must always keep divine activity and divine attribute together: God’s actions are self-revelatory, the expression of God’s essence or character. Thus if the cross is theophanic, God must be understood as essentially cruciform.

You can see though that he does not have a concept of energies, only essence, therefore in his view weakness must be essential as does majesty. And anything that contradicts essential weakness is idolatry-not God. And then he blows it by going there:

The Idolatry of “Normal” Divinity

In light of this first theological conclusion, we must affirm that the “normal” “civil” god of power and might is an idol, and it must be named as such. This god is not the Lord God revealed in Jesus Christ [I’ll insert “essentially on the cross”] and narrated in the theopolitics of Phil 2:6-11. The “normal” god of civil religion combines patriotism and power; this is the god of many American leaders and of many Americans generally. (This god has, of course, had many other incarnations in human history.) Most especially idolatrous…is military power incarnate, whether in the crusades or in Iraq or at Armageddon.

Oh brother. I bet he considers idolatrous our icon of St. George defeating the dragon, or of military saints, or of Christ harrowing hell, or of the Transfiguration where only a few were invited to see his glory. I bet he doesn’t like locks or gates around heaven. Does he not think that not saying no will lead to vandalism, rape, murder, and blight (see This Old House in Detroit)? Yes Jesus suffered most of these things, and so did the martyrs, actually though there seems to be a line around rape. That torture in particular was avoided either by the will of the Saint or by divine intervention. Not that Christians haven’t been raped, but if they are it is seen as heinous and of no benefit and that all efforts should be made to prevent it.

Man, I’m so disappointed.

Iraq had a lot of problems, including stories of WMD and possible oil interests. But it must be seen in light of 9-11 and al qaeda. Notice he didn’t mention Afghanistan in his list. One could say that justly fighting in a war mandates unselfish motives or self-defense. It is true Christ did not offer self-defense, but you have to consider context. His time had come. He offered himself at that moment. He was protected at other times. You’ve got to know when to hold em and when to fold em in Kenny Roger’s words. There is a time for peace and a time for war if you want to get Ecclesiastical. Good grief. Lefties can be so simplistic. Let’s have an open door, open arms, blind policy of self-giving. Go for it. Bye.