Monday, January 31, 2011

Fellow Catholic KJ Celebrates 1000th Post

Friend of the blog (or at least this blogger, I think Mike knows him too or something) Kevin Johnston celebrated a milestone with his 1000th post today. This isn't totally postworthy but I figured I'd make one anyway. Check out the post here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An early Eucharist, with a history lesson

We rarely see historical accounts of actual celebrations of the Eucharist, but we do have one very early source for what the early liturgy might have looked like!

The service went as follows:

The celebrant talked until midnight.
A member of the congregation fell asleep on the windowsill, subsequently fell out of the window and died.
Celebrant brought him back to life.
The Eucharistic meal finally took place.
The celebrant, having learned much from the earlier debacle, talked until daybreak. (cf. Acts 20. Long winded homilists have an illustrious predecessor)

Many Church Fathers agonized over the issue of how best to keep people from the windowsills, since the problem of falling asleep during homilies seems to have been one of the great crises of the early Church. The early incident accounted above has been cited as possibly the strongest reason for the eventual movement from the house church (with the possibility of a second story), to a one story plan, to reduce the height of a possible fall. A group of third century heretics, however, referred to as the spatium superiorists, held that it was improper for the Eucharist to be held on any floor lower than the second, as the Last Supper had taken place in an "Upper Room", and that to celebrate it on the ground floor was contrary to the command of Christ. Sadly, their homilists did not break with the rest of the Church on the subject of homily length, and fatalities resulting from sitting at the Eucharistic celebration soon reduced their ranks to a level which left them merely as a footnote of history.

A later and more popular solution to the falling-out-of-windows problem, at least in the West, was to build the windows at a level higher than the people, or at least their rears, could reach. This eventually resulted in Gothic architecture. St. Bernard railed against this style, mainly due to his opinion that it was mortally sinful to fall asleep during a homily anyway, and that the design of the church building didn't need to bow to considerations such as coddling hardened sinners. He points out in various homilies that the word used to describe how one moves toward the ground from a higher position is also used for those who turn back to sin. A coincidence? Hardly!

The Protestant reformers took a new and innovative approach. They introduced a device called the pew, which was made to look more comfortable than the windowsill, thus attracting the worshipper away from flirting with death.

After the success of the original pew, many decided to attempt to attract more worshippers by sporting comfortable luxury pews, made to give a better sitting experience than could be found elsewhere in the known world. Pope St. Pius V is said to have quipped that he would have traded the Chair of Peter for any one of the new pews , made in northern Germany. Unfortunately, while fatalities were down, falling asleep during worship services became nearly epidemic.

As a reaction, a new movement formed, which was of the mind that pews should be as uncomfortable as possible, thus encouraging wakefulness. At the same time, in the comfortable pew confession, extant lectionaries show the increasing prevalence of readings regarding the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, as pastors tried to find ways to address the problem.

In more modern times, various groups have tried to deal with this issue which has plagued the Church since the early days of Christianity. In many places, coffee was introduced to keep worshippers awake (note the coffee shops appended to modern megachurches). Unfortunately, in those traditions which have a pre-Communion fast, the coffee (with later appended doughnuts), was placed after the service, negating any positive effect. Following the mandate of the Second Vatican Council to deal with this problem in new ways, Pope Paul VI lessened the communion fast in the Catholic Church to one hour before receiving communion. The stated goal of this was so that coffee hours could occur before the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, but this failed to catch on.

As can be seen, these issues have a long and twisted history, and one can only surmise what the next move will be as the churches continue to attempt to solve this long-lived problem.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On the Phrase "Sex-Positive"

A term often used to describe conservative viewpoints on sex by feminists, especially secular feminists, is that they are "sex-negative." This term is often used to describe viewpoints that seem to put down sex, to subordinate it to other things and thus to limit it to less than its full potential with respect to human fulfillment and pleasure. Thus the conservatives are thought sex-negative because they see certain limitations on the proper use of sexuality and the body, and the feminists are thought sex-positive because they see, at the least, fewer limits on what can or should be considered the proper use of the same.

Of course as Chesterton notes, there is something disproportionate in human sexuality, such that "the moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant." But I think Chesterton was wrong on the details of what this means, if he meant exactly what he said. As soon as we attempt to elevate sex, to be "sex-positive," it is not sex which becomes a tyrant. Sex goes from being a servant of God and nature to the slave of lust, and we go from slaves of Christ to slaves of our passions.

The moment we attempt to be sex-positive, to rule by consent instead of by divine and natural intent, we become instead sex-negative and pleasure-positive. We become convinced that sexuality and our bodies are things that can be abused in the name of our pleasure; we treat it as something there for our pleasure, not for the purposes endorsed by the divine, which do not themselves conflict with pleasure but which include over and above enjoyment the unity of persons and the propagation of the species.

It seems then that the sex-positive feminists, in desiring to liberate sex, have liberated it from freedom and unto our abuses. If you don't believe me, watch where the world goes on matters of sexuality in the next few years. Observe the broken-hearted people who can't properly manage their "friends-with-benefits" relationships. Wonder why people who use consent, rather than divinely-ordered responsibility, as their barometer for acceptability, so often wind up with emotional messes on their hands. And then tell me that these people are the sex-positive and liberated ones.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christian Carnival 361

The Christian Carnival is open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this Carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought.

Posts need not be of a theological topic. Posts about home life, politics, or current events, for example, written from a Christian worldview are welcome.

As the goal of this Carnival is to highlight Christian thought in the blogosphere, entries will be limited to blogs that share that goal.

We also expect a level of discourse that is suitable for a Christian showcase. Thus entries may be refused if they engage in name-calling, ad hominem attacks, offensive language, or for any similar reason as judged by the administrator.

The Posts

Jody Neufeld presents Beloved Children posted at Jody's Devotionals. Jody remarks: "Hell, negative consequences and being God's beloved children."

Henry Neufeld presents Praying Without Ceasing and Hyperbole posted at Participatory Bible Study Blog. Henry's comments: "Might there be a better translation than "pray without ceasing?" Can one really pray with ever stopping?"

Ali presents Can you believe in evolution and be a Christian? posted at Kiwi and an Emu.. Ali's summary: "Okay, this could be a contentious post. But I thought I'd throw it in there to see what people thought."

annette presents Bible Reading Plan posted at Fish and Cans. annette, apparently, has no further comment at this time.

Jason presents Feeling Busy? A Biblical look at “Busyness” posted at One Money Design. Jason's summary: "After the holidays we can all relate and know what busyiness is like. But, we need to keep in mind Biblical guidance and learn to slow our lives down."

Elsie presents Eerie Temptations posted at Elsie's Dating Adventure. "It's time for Christians to wake up to a serious problem!"

Timothy Payne presents A jesus, or The Jesus. | realityinred posted at realityinred. Timothy's summary: "Which Jesus do you serve? Is it THE Jesus of the Bible, or A 'jesus' of your own making? One is the Son of the Living God and God in the flesh, the other is an idol made in your own image. One can get you to Heaven, the other will lead you straight to Hell. Is it A 'jesus', or THE Jesus?"

Andrea @ Unfailingly Loved presents And My Word for the Year is ... posted at Unfailingly Loved.

michelle presents The Super Craziness of How God Speaks posted at And She Went Out....

Ridge Burns presents Psalm 15 posted at Ridge’s Blog.

Chris Price presents Vick Should Be Executed for Dogfighting? posted at Random Musings on Anything and Everything from a Biblical Worldview. Price's summary: "One conservative pundit thinks that NFL player Michael Vick should be executed for his execution of dogs. While Vick's behavior was reprehensible, there is no way that an animal's life should be valued over that of a human when looking at the issue from a biblical perspective."

Deb W. presents On Resolutions posted at All Things New. Deb's comment: "Rather than coming up with resolutions of my own for the New Year, I'm meditating on what Christ has already done and to what He has promised to His children."

FMF presents Prosperity, The Sneaky Side of Discontent, Part 1 posted at Free Money Finance. FMF's description: "How prosperity can make us discontented."

Scott Graham presents Cartoon Turns Muslims to Marauders posted at Iron Sharpens Iron. Scott's description: "This article describes the differences between the Christian & Muslim culture by focusing on a recent foiled terror plot."

The Caleb Community has The Richest Man who Ever Lived.

Lastly, our offering here at KBT is: Crazy Kids. A bit about marriage, culture and despair.


Kevin Poulis presents – Helping Christians Live Like Christians posted at It's in an "other" section because I am still highly curious as to whether is in any way shape or form a Christian website.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crazy Kids

There's a strange impetus in our modern society against the idea that marriage really lasts till death. After all, only 50% of marriages do. What does that make the people who try and get married, who try and make it last? It seems like it makes them a bunch of crazy kids, setting themselves up against the "wisdom" of the world that these things just don't last. Even The Office, one of the more optimistically romantic shows on television, has an episode where a character in relationship with another, upon hearing that her parents are getting divorced, remarks that it was her parents, or his. Now it's true that in this case the good doesn't last forever. Marriage was only designed to last until the Resurrection. But it's nothing but cynical to say that the good shouldn't be expected to last as long as it ought to last, that is, until one partner is dead. It betrays a despairing lack of hope for the Sacrament of Marriage, and the love that can flourish between two people even in today's "modern world." I'm on the side of the crazy kids--the ones who say "one partner, one marriage, we'll make it till the end," and whether or not I ever become one of them I will remain on their side. Now it's true that perhaps marriages are more in danger nowadays, but that's a reason for caution, for being properly crazy and not marrying based just one one's feelings, for actually making a commitment to routinely take care of each other. It is not a case for despairing of actually making that lifelong commitment; that despair is the abdication of responsibility, not the sign. So I'm going to stay on the side of these crazy kids, warring against this Satanic cynicism that's been somehow disguised as wisdom.