Category Archives: Religion

Psalm 131

See it full size for the best effect, I think: Psalm 131. I made this slide show for worship this past Sunday, using CC photographs from Flickr, and music from Lindsay Phillips. It was prompted by Psalm 131:

Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.

Harmonia Sacra online

Here’s a labor of love: the Harmonia Sacra online.

The Harmonia Sacra is a shape-note tunebook in the Mennonite tradition. Originally published in 1832 by Joseph Funk as A Compilation of Genuine Church Music, it has gone through twenty-six editions. This on-line version provides both seven-shape and four-shape (“Sacred Harp”-style) versions of tunes.

I created a website (static website, but generated with Ruby) using James Nelson Gingerich’s excellent newly typeset versions of this tune book.

A crack in everything

Fred Clark gets it:

One of the first questions when approaching the subject of human nature tends to be are we essentially good or essentially rotten? The Christian answer — “Yes!” — can seem like a cop-out, or a contradiction, or a paradox (the euphemism theologian’s use for those contradictions we like). The idea is that every human is of inestimable worth, bearing the very image of God through and through. Yet every human is also fallen, broken, corrupt, through and through. And the matter of virtue and wickedness is only part of the equation anyway — we’re not just fallen, but also finite, fallible and fragile.

Glory to rival the sun

This past weekend, Bess, Jane and I attended the 50th anniversary of the founding of Reba Place Church, the church we attended in the 90’s when I was in graduate school and for a few years afterwards. Saturday was spent going though a decade by decade retrospective. Reba began as, essentially, a commune in the 50’s and experienced explosive growth through the 60s and 70s. They allowed non-communal members in the 80s and there were many aftershocks of many of the communal members becoming everyday variety congregational members. The 90s, our decade, were full of angst for Reba, as it struggled to let new leaders emerge, dealt with–or didn’t deal with–its own racism and desire to be an anti-racist church, radically different views on many things, especially the role of women in leadership and the role of the Spirit in the church’s direction. Various betrayals of trust and adulteries didn’t help. The past decade, with (I think) able leadership of pastor Ric Hudgens, the gospel choir led by Helen Hudgens, and a cadre of leaders and members who stuck it out when many left, has been much better, in both the congregational and communal parts of the church.

The current and former members of Reba, to their credit, were able to name the good and the bad throughout these decades, and joyously celebrated the music and liturgical dance for which it has become justly known. We were hosted by the always gracious Shelly family, and it was wonderful to see so many old friends (and a few bête noires), although, really, I’d rather spend a day with one friend than see 100 friends and not get a chance to talk with each one more than a few minutes. (I’m confident enough in heaven that I know there will be plenty of time to catch up).

Jim Croegaert‘s song Changes captures it all well:

Changes coming upon us It keeps moving, moving around us Got to keep dancing knowing God loves us Got to keep joy in our hearts God knows all of our needs and God will meet them following God’s plan Even the changes turning in God’s hand Soon will be part of it all So we enter a new time There are places where it’s a hard climb But there are faces carrying sunshine Warming our path as we go Sometimes we may be lonely It’s a hard job making us holy But in the long run there will be glory Glory to rival the sun.

Kelly (and Susan) Clark

Sunday evening, Bess, a number of friends, and I went to hear Calvin professors Kelly Clark (philosophy) and Steve Matheson (biology) speak on “God after Darwin, Dawkins, and Dennet” at the Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids. Kelly has been a friend of Bess’s since high school, and Susan Ford Clark, Kelly’s wife, shared an apartment with Bess their senior year–in fact, Kelly and Susan, and Bess and I, were married on the same day in the same church (at different times). It was great fun to go out to dinner with the Clarks and catch up a bit; we haven’t seen them much over the years.

It was interesting to hear Kelly and Steve Matheson, both evangelical scholars and believers in natural selection, talk. Being ‘pro-evolution’ is a bit of a third rail in some evangelical circles, and being ‘pro-God’ is a bit of a third rail in some professional circles. They did a masterful job of presenting–in just over an hour–a basic epistomological stance, what explanations are, and why theism and natural selection are compatible.

(“Sue” corrected to “Susan.”)