Monday, August 20, 2018

Dirty Dozen Fight Songs (Ranked)

It's 12 days till the start of football season. So, attempting to be as objective as possible, here are the fight songs of Louisville's 12 regular season opponents ranked from best to worst:
 #1 To prove how objective I'm trying to be, I'm not a fan of the school my Number One belongs to. I really don't like Wake Forest at all, in fact. But I have to admit their fight song's the best of the twelve. It's original, has cool words, and a catchy tune. If this were a ranking of all fight songs nationally, it would definitely be in the Top Ten... maybe even the Top Five. What I'm not fond of, however, is the bridge between stanzas. But I didn't allow that tackiness to lower its ranking. Lesser songs were not so lucky when it came to things having nothing to do with the actual tune.

Today is St Stephen's Day in Hungary

Hungarians trace the foundation of their state to the coronation of Stephen I as king in the year AD 1000. He was the first Christian ruler of Hungary and is considered a saint. The crown placed on his head was sent by Pope Sylvester II. This "Crown of St. Stephen" (or the Holy Crown of Hungary) has been the symbol of Hungary throughout its history, is considered to have personhood, and is the equal of the state itself. As such it is superior to the head upon which it sits, and the kings of Hungary ruled not in their own names, but in the name of the crown. When the crown passed to the Hapsburgs, the Emperor of Austria also became the King of Hungary, and the Empire was known as the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Many Hungarians—especially during the failed revolution of 1848—despised the emperor, but were loyal to the king, even though they were the same person.

Perspective

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious Name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.
Ps 72:18-19

The 72nd Psalm extols the king nearly from beginning to end. I say nearly, because at the very end, we read words that put the king's glory into perspective. No matter how great the ruler, God alone is the worker of wonders, and is the source of any greatness to which humans might aspire. The psalmist, therefore, "with good reason prays that the glory of the divine Name may fill the whole earth, since that kingdom was to be extended even to the uttermost boundaries of the globe, and that all the godly, with earnest and ardent affection of heart, may unite with him in the same prayers, there is added a confirmation in the words, Amen, and Amen."

Thank you, Lord, for wise rulers. But forgive me when I glorify them, and not the Source of their wisdom. And forgive me, too, for despairing when rulers are selfish or unworthy; for you are greater than their schemes, and your will will be done. Bring me, my country, and all peoples through to the end, when you are all in all, and peace reigns throughout the earth; in the Name of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Prince of peace, even Jesus Christ my Lord, who taught me to pray...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The True Nature of Strength

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
Ps 72:12-14

Calvin said of these verses that "the psalmist again affirms that the kingdom which he magnifies so greatly will not be tyrannical or cruel. The majority of kings, neglecting the well-being of the community, have their minds wholly engrossed with their own private interests. The consequence is, that they unmercifully oppress their miserable subjects; and it even happens that the more formidable any of them is, and the more absorbing his rapacity, he is accounted so much the more eminent and illustrious. But it is far different with the king here described. It has been held as a proverb by all mankind, 'That there is nothing in which men approach nearer to God than by their beneficence'; and it would be very inconsistent did not this virtue shine forth in those kings whom God has more nearly linked to himself."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Christian Values

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
Ps 72:1-7
Psalm 72 is painful for me to read. It is very much a messianic psalm, and Christians see in it a prayer for the reign of Christ. But it also points to the biblical ideal for what a ruler should be—and this is an idea that has not only been rejected by my own people, but most specifically by the very people who claim to derive their faith from the words of the Bible.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Problem of Pain

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
Ps 71:20

Psalm 71:20 is very much about resurrection, for I can easily imagine the cross and the empty tomb when I read these words. But I must remember that this psalm is also for me all through the course of my life. To paraphrase Calvin:

If I enjoy nothing but a uniform course of prosperity, I'll no doubt have good reason to be happy. But in that case I would never experience what it is to be delivered from destruction by the stupendous power of God. I must be brought down even to the gates of death before I can see God as my deliverer.

I know that to some this is a poor explanation for the problem of pain. But I have to admit that it works for me. It's not the only explanation. It's not even the best explanation. But it's a good explanation, because even somebody who resists it has to admit it's true: I cannot appreciate goodness if goodness is all I experience. If I eat nothing but candy, I will never appreciate how good chocolate or caramel are, since they're all I'll know.* Moreover, a diet of candy is so unbalanced as to be unhealthy. And the same can be said about joy: If I only know joy, I'll never appreciate what joy actually is. Moreover, it is unhealthy to know only joy, for then how could I coëxist with those who suffer? Such people would be so foreign to me that I couldn't even communicate with them, let alone be of any help to them. My life would lose meaning.