Tuesday, July 07, 2009


...to just one blog


Monday, July 06, 2009

thoughts on a romance

I've just watched the BBC’s production of Persuasion by Jane Austen and my initial thought upon finishing it was “Rubbish!” I have not only wasted time, but filled my mind with images of heaving bosoms, trembling lips, longing looks and a final passionate kiss that bespeaks the only proper ending to an emotionally-charged romance. But surely I can learn something if I will think it through.

The good:

- I admired several qualities of the main character, Anne Elliot: her firmness of will - such as when she unflinchingly put out her hands to reset a young boy’s dislocated collarbone, her modest demeanor amidst a family that was excessively vain and infatuated with human honor, her kindness toward her rather annoying sister, (whom I would have been quite inclined to shake violently); her patience in not immediately throwing herself at a man she loved very much; her disregard for status, such as in calling on a poor woman as her friend.
- The fact that Captain Frederick loved Anne more for her character than her looks was commendable.
- I appreciated the sobriety of Ann and the Captain, who did not try to casually toss away the awkwardness of their strained relationship with forced levity. (Yet could there have been forgiveness for righteousness’ sake, and not merely because they were still in love with each other? Of course, but such stories are never made into movies!)
- I appreciated the way the story honored the woman who quietly waited, and not the woman who was giddy and flirtatious. The whole movie portrayed flirtation in a bad light, and that can be helpful in discouraging its practice.

The bad:

- Family ties were portrayed as something that existed only for status, and there was no portrayal of the family as it ought to be. The hero of the story was the young woman who finally disregarded her family for the love of her heart. Now, as the story went, there really was nothing else she could do. Her family was a cluster of (rather nauseating) primping societal baubles who cared nothing for matters of the soul…. Captain Frederick was handsome and ardent and deep down he loved Anne…where else could the story go? And yet, this individualistic disregard of the family, though made necessary in Persuasion, is played out again and again in contemporary homes where self-absorbed young women live in a dream-world where they imagine themselves to be just like Ann Elliot, and there families to be as ridiculous as hers. Imbued with a sense of sacred individualism, they imagine their romantic affairs to be their own personal possession, and hope that their emotional attachment to the boy down the street will end with a kiss as passionate as the Captain’s, and a love as undying. The vision for God-honoring and holy relationships, the beauty of properly exercised headship and submission, and the Christian realization that I am not my own but God’s - are drowned by deafening throb of the individual heart.
- The story follows the pattern of romantic fantasizing in which many women are prone to indulge. The female heart’s longing for love, if fueled by a vivid imagination, can easily produce a story like this. Austen had a good imagination. Some women do not - never mind - they can fuel their fantasy with the stories of talented writers. Though romantic stories are not always wrong in themselves, they have great potential danger as fuel for idle fantasizing, which is not only unprofitable, but also has a tendency to inflame lust.
- The story was focused on the human level, as if men were gods and God was unimportant, even non-existent. God alone satisfies the longing of the human heart, but sadly, the story portrayed what so many people erroneously think - that human love will satisfy the heart’s deepest longings.

So then, am I glad I watched the movie? I’m not sure. The suspense was wonderful. The ending was rapturous. But I was profoundly unsatisfied, and not surprised. I have a happy ending still to come, that will make Anne and the Captain look like crumbly claymation. It’s not just my personal happy ending, but one to be shared with all Christ’s people, when the love of our hearts will come back (after an absence much longer than eight years), and prove that he still loves us by raising us out of the grave, to be with Him forever.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

self smitten and annihilated

I was quite struck by these words of John Calvin on the nature of true repentance:
"It is a most difficult and arduous achievement to renounce ourselves, and lay aside our natural disposition. For the flesh must not be thought to be destroyed unless every thing that we have of our own is abolished. But seeing that all the desires of the flesh are enmity against God (Rom. 8:7), the first step to the obedience of his law is the renouncement of our own nature.
...As we are naturally averse to God, unless self-denial precede, we shall never tend to that which is right. Hence we are so often enjoined to put off the old man, to renounce the world and the flesh, to forsake our lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Moreover, the very name mortification reminds us how difficult it is to forget our former nature, because we hence infer that we cannot be trained to the fear of God, and learn the first principles of piety, unless we are violently smitten with the sword of the Spirit and annihilated, as if God were declaring, that to be ranked among his sons there must be a destruction of our ordinary nature."
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.III.8

The Death of Athaliah - Gustave Dore

Friday, July 03, 2009

He without anything is more than all without Him

"God, and all that he has made, is not more than God without any thing that he has made...He is enough without the creature, but the creature is not anything without him. It is therefore better to enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him."
- William Secker

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

pre-anesthesia musings

Getting ready to head to my wisdom-teeth surgery in about an hour, I had a few thoughts about how our soul kept through faith if we are unconscious...

Although it is by faith that the soul experiences saving union with Jesus Christ, and without faith in Christ, there is no life or salvation - it is not ultimately our faith which keeps us united to Christ, but the loving decree of God to save us and make us His own. If this were not so, and our faith were the primary and ultimate factor in our salvation, we would lose our salvation every time we sleep. But He who watches over Israel does not slumber or sleep, and He preserves our souls when our minds are in such a state that they cannot continue to exercise faith. Still we are called in all our waking moments to believe the promises of God in Jesus Christ, for He only is our life and our salvation. To do otherwise than believe in Him for all that He is to us is to deny Him to be our life and salvation. Therefore, when we believe anything, we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; and when we can neither think nor have any faith at all, the promises in which we believe remain true, and the God whom we believe remains faithful. Thus it is shown that He, and not us, is the ultimate source of salvation....


Monday, June 22, 2009

"...be not afraid"

A storm? But He who rules all things,
From rolling dice to hearts of kings,
Still speaks; my frightened heart is stayed
By, "It is I; be not afraid."


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

comprehended in Christ

"When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutes portion of it from any other quarter.
If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his sepulchre; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to him.
...since in him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, and none from any other quarter."
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. II.XVI.19

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