From Tallest Man to Biggest Dog

Karis' response, "Dog . . . Uh - Oh!"

Contemporary Hymns

A while ago I was complaining about several contemporary praise songs and the theology contained therein.

I neglected to pass along this site which represents great contemporary songs being written that are theologically sound and meaty.

I highly recommend this albumn.


Tallest Man the Bravest Man?

I just heard about this story, where the worlds tallest man saves two dolphins by using his extremely long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out shards of plastic. Why the bravest man? Talk to me about dolphins sometime.

He also just got married (to someone 2/3 his height).


The Concept of God

Peter van Inwagen in his recent book The Problem of Evil, claims that the concept of God is equivalent to the concept of the greatest (metaphysically) possible being. There is thus a flexibility in what attributes one ascribes to God depending upon what one thinks is metaphysically possible and what one thinks is a great-making feature.

This understanding of the concept of God seems to be too weak for several reasons.

First, suppose that very few things are in fact metaphysically possible. For instance, suppose that it is impossible to know any truths that are not necessary truths. It is at least epistemically possible that such things are metaphysically impossible. If that were the case, could God exist? On van Inwagen's account there could still be a greatest possible being, and thus God would be that being. However, if the best the greatest possible being could do knowledge wise was to know necessary truths, then I have a hard time seeing that that being is God. It seems to me that if there are significant limitations to what is metaphysically possible, then God could not exist. (whether there are such limitations is another story)

Second, suppose that an individual, Joe, has a diminished understanding of what is in fact metaphysically possible. So, though it is possible to know non-necessary truths, Joe does not believe that it is. Joe still believes that there is a greatest possible being, he just does not believe that that being knows contingent truths since he doesn't think that can be done. Does Joe have the right concept of God and just the wrong concept of what is possible? I don't think so. It seems that he also has the wrong concept of God.

To sum up, it seems like there is a 'ground floor' of what must be metaphysically possible, or thought to be metaphysically possible, if God is to exist, or be thought to exist. Anything below that 'ground floor' leaves too diminished a concept of the greatest possible being for it to be the concept of God. Thus, the concept of God does not just equal the concept of the greatest possible being simpliciter, more must be said about what is possible.


Easter Rejoicing

From St. John Chrysostom:

Let all pious men and lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast. Let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord. Let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward.

Let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first.

Yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first. He rewards the one and is generous to the other. He repays the deeds and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord! You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward. You rich and you poor, dance together! You sober and you the weak, celebrate the day! You who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today!

The table is richly loaded; enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fattened one; let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith. All of you receive the riches of His goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave!

Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it! He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom. He has vexed it by allowing it to taste of His flesh. When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been vexed by encountering Him in the nether world!"

Hades is vexed, because it is frustrated!
It is vexed, because it is now captive!
It seized a body, and lo! It discovered God!
It seized earth, and behold! It encountered Heaven! It seized the visible and was overcome by the invisible!
Oh death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are abolished!
Christ is risen, and the demons are cast down!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life is freed!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead!

For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and the Reviver of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power, for ever and ever! Amen.


Holy Wednesday

An Eastern Catholic friend passed this excerpt from a hymn along to me that was sung yesterday. It presents a nice juxtaposition between Judas and Mary of Bethany in their reactions to Jesus:

As the sinful woman was bringing her offering of myrrh, the disciple [Judas] was scheming with lawless men. She rejoiced in pouring out her precious gift; he lost no time in selling off the Precious One. She recognized the Master; from the same Master he separated himself. She was set free, but Judas was enslaved to the enemy. How dreadful was his rashness! How great was her repentance! Savior, You suffered for our sakes: grant us also repentance, and save us!

O, the wretchedness of Judas! He watched as the harlot was kissing your feet, all the while with guile thinking about the kiss of betrayal! As she untied her tresses, he was being tied up in anger, bringing rancid wickedness instead of fragrant ointment, for envy knows not how to prefer its advantage. O, the wickedness of Judas! From this deliver our souls, O God! The harlot spread out her hair to You, O Master. Judas spread out his hand to lawless men--she in order to receive forgiveness, he in order to receive some silver. And so we cry out to You, for You were sold for us and yet set us free. O Lord, glory to You!

Though I have transgressed more than the harlot, Good One, I have not offered You a flood of tears, but praying in silence I fall down before You. With love, I embrace Your most pure feet. As Master, grant me remission of sins, when I cry to You, O Savior: Deliver me from the filth of my evil deeds!

Lord, O Lord, when the woman who had fallen into many sins perceived Your Divinity, she assumed the role of a myrrh-bearing woman, and lamenting, brought ointments to anoint You before Your burial. 'Woe is me,' she cried, 'for I live in the night of licentiousness, shrouded in the dark and moonless love affair with sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, as You gathered the waters of the sea into clouds. Bow down Your ear to the sighing of my heart, as You bowed the heavens in Your ineffable condescension. I shall cover Your unstained feet with kisses, and wipe them dry again with the locks of my hair, those feet whose steps' sound echoed in Eve's ears at twilight in Paradise, whereupon she hid herself in fear! Who can measure the multitude of my sins, or the depths of Your judgments, O Savior of my soul? Do not despise Your servant in your immeasurable mercy!

The harlot mingled her costly ointment with her tears, and she poured it out on your immaculate feet and kissed them profusely. Immediately You justified her. You suffered for our sakes; forgive us also, and save us!