Conversations and Fun

Well, it looks like Trump has sewn it up.

He is well on the way to destroying the Republican party and we are well on the way to having a third party candidate, which may forever fracture the two party system we got and was yielding the results we have been so steadily getting for so long. The change ought to be interesting, don’t you think?

I think so.

* * *

Had a conversation with someone used to the kind of preaching that searches you inwardly and leaves you feeling something got accomplished, the true Reformed Baptist way, and, I sometimes think, the reason their churches are small when nothing otherwise strange goes on. They don’t do that in the OPC, more cerebral and . . . nice. There’s no judging of any sort. It seemed to me pretty effete at first, but I understand it better now. There is no way to explain it to someone who is still in withdrawal from the RB way without looking like a compromiser. This is a guy who uses his lunch break to go out street preaching, so I’m going to look like a compromiser no matter what I say. And yet I think: Do you always ratchet things up to the maximum? Should you usually? Is everybody strung for that?

What is your vision of Christian commitment? What about a place for low-commitment Christians like Roger Scruton, if he is one? Of for those who are so ashamed of evangelicals they have legitimate concerns about identifying with Christ? For a Christian, for example, with the sensibility of Borges?

To draw it back to something more probable: What about a place where there is both severity and tenderness in equal amounts? Not sure that will happen, though everyone in the USA who doesn’t want to be labelled inscrutable or anomalous better say his church pretty much usually nails the balance. The world is full of interesting variety, and I wonder if there is any place where persons do not chose to err. To make what I’m getting at more visible: would it be possible for me to do something without choosing to err? I wonder if that’s the challenge for our time: choosing the least worst error.

Even the young believe that now, at least where I am: they readily settle for seeing if they can find the least worst error. I would not be surprised if everywhere they believe that. Perhaps people always have and I’m only just now getting it. I was watching the Pride & Prejudice Katrina was ironing to and realized that people dress up to try to look as well as possible, without any qualms. I have never in my life done that, and it is largely due to ignorance of what most people were doing. I overheard a conversation filled with relief recently. The chap had figured out how to move from the PCUSA to the EPC. Many were glad. I have found that people have reasons for staying in the PCA while attending OP churches. I ask questions others find obvious and therefore suspicious. I’m just trying to figure out what exactly they think they’re doing.

Here is another kind of interesting conversation we get up to around here: the one about presuppositionalism. People grow up in that environment for all practical purposes believing Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were morons. It shelters them from anything secular when it comes to education, frowning politely but firmly on Classical education. I had one recently who told me he had been listening to secular lectures on life, the universe and everything. I would have said lectures by a professor at Harvard or the U of North Carolina or what have you; but he said ‘secular’. And he thought they had a point, knew what they were talking about. It was the weirdest thing for me, as weird as it was for him when I told him that most of the music produced in my lifetime was off bounds to me growing up. For me, the wrong music would lead me down the wide way that leads to destruction, for him, its secular teaching full as it is of obvious contradictions and autonomous reason.

I am, by the way, ready to conclude that the common grace thing is irrational. I have even stuck it in a paper. If common grace operates in spite of what humans are trying to do, when does it enter the process? At the end, like magic? Or does it penetrate subtly throughout, leavening what human kind achieves? If the latter, how can you discern to understand what is done rightly and what wrongly? And if you can’t discern, how can you evaluate? When human discernment is excluded, human endeavor is condemned. All human endeavor is condemned: everybody’s, including the presuppositionalists. This is a good dilemma for understanding soteriology, but it is a good way of understanding every human activity, anything at all other than soteriology? It is irrational to posit that common grace inexplicably leaks in.

So one finds the intolerant of Van Til and has conversations, and steadily works out what’s wrong and nourishes one’s dissent. (The dissenters are Thomists; I’m the only real free-standing Platonist around here; and it makes it obvious to me that the book on Platonism from Origen to C. S. Lewis has to be written.) It’s fun because you have the thrill of being in the minority, carefully thinking your way free of the nets and arguments, preparing for the coming confrontation. And it all goes to show that any place has its fun.


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