Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Sid takes the Red Pill. Michael Isikoff demonstrates Sidney Blumenthal lives in his own personal Matrix.

More. Here is Christopher Hitchen's early take on the book.

And - "Tom" is correct, in his comments. I should've titled this "Sid takes the Blue Pill." If you take the red pill, you embrace reality -- taking the blue pill, well, let Morpheus explain: "You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe."

Finally. Hitchen's Atlantic review is online.
Hedging Bets. The Rockford College graduation speech by New York Times reporter Chris Hedges deserved to be booed -- not just because he was opposed to the battle for Iraq, not just because he's anti-American, but it has to be the most ponderous, pretentious commencement address I've ever heard. You can listen to it to courtesy of the Rockford Register Star.

More This guy won a Pulitzer? Not quite. He was part of a "team" that won a Pulitzer -- This story that he co-wrote was the only one submitted that had his byline. Sort of like saying Rickey Dudley won the Super Bowl last year.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Baptism. We came back from St. Paul to be godparents to two adorable twins, Brian and Benjamin. There were 35 baptisms at our church today -- we do them every other month. I think the real treat was an entire family that got baptized together. Most services we use the standard Episcopal baptismal font and dribble. Today we pulled up the floor boards (there's a tank under the altar table) for a good dunking, which really is the right way to do it, IMO. Our rector was raised Baptist (in England), so I could see he was thrilled to "take a swim."

BTW, speaking of baptism -- the best depiction of baptism on film? See the movie Tender Mercies with Robert DuVall.

More. The Associate Rector, Marshall Brown had an excellent sermon which started off thusly,
“Do Episcopalians believe in transubstantiation?”

Well, first of all, what are we talking about? In the beginning of the 13th century, the Catholic church defined the way Christ is present in the sacrament of Holy Communion with the doctrine of transubstantiation. In the philosophical language of the day, people believed that you could divide things into two parts: their “substance,” and their “accidents.” And according to this line of thinking, something like bread is made up of two parts: flour and water – which are “accidents,” on the one hand, and secondly “breadness” – which is its “substance.” And so when the priest consecrated the bread, it’s so-called “accidents” of flour and water stayed the same, but its “substance – its “breadness”, was transubstantiated into the body of Christ.

But the problem was, this was not a Biblical or theological line of reasoning, but a worldly philosophical argument. And so from the moment the doctrine was formulated, people got it wrong! There was a long period of misunderstanding, which culminated in the Protestant Reformation. The great majority of the common people, as well as most of the trained religious folk, misunderstood the doctrine. They believed not in transubstantiation but in what one might call “transaccidentalism.” The were stories of bread bleeding when the priest broke it, and things more outlandish than that! And so there grew up a tremendous misunderstanding and superstition about the sacrament of Communion. As we gather this morning, we believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in this sacrament. We believe it with a passion. But we Anglicans, you see, don’t particularly like explanations.

Queen Elizabeth I, when asked what she believed about the bread and the wine, said these famous four lines:
T'was God the Word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it.
And what that Word did make it,
That I believe and take it.
The entire sermon can be found here.