Who Is Jaroslav Pelikan?

I was given a book to read written by Jaroslav Pelikan. I recognized the name but wasn’t sure why. I might just be thinking of the bird, who knows.

pelikan
Jaroslav Pelikan
pelican
your average pelican

I enjoyed two chapters of the book, but not so much the rest, which might be more me than him. But I was interested enough to find out who he was.

Pelikan is a 20th-Century American Church History professor, teaching at Concordia, the University of Chicago, and Yale. He earned his “PhD by the age of 22. He was known for the great breadth of his expertise, which included study and books on the early church, Augustine, Luther, the development of doctrine, Kierkegaard, medieval philosophy, etc.”

He grew up a Lutheran, and translated 22 volumes of Luther’s writings. But by studying Eastern Orthodoxy, he converted to Orthodoxy when he was 70.

“After being such a strong scholar and Lutheran for so long, it was shocking to the Protestant world when he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy at the age of 70 years old in 1996. He didn’t talk much about his conversion, but a few quotes caught my eye. He said: “I was the Lutheran with the greatest knowledge of the Orthodox Church, and now I am the Orthodox with the greatest knowledge of Luther. ” He also said that he didn’t so much find Orthodoxy as much as return to it, “Peeling back the layers of my own belief to reveal the Orthodoxy that was always there.””

He died in 2006.

The Sound of Music and Other Gateway Drugs

I heard a theology professor discuss his upbringing in a conservative Reformed church and the rules he was told to adhere to.

He mentioned that it was wrong to go to movies until The Sound of Music came out in 1965. This movie apparently demonstrated that movies could be decent, wholesome, and good.

soundofsin

It changed everything. Now they were allowed to attend movies!

The Sound of Music was a sort of gateway drug in his adolescence. It made movie-going OK. Surely movies can’t be that harmful, they might, like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, even be one of your favorite things!

I endured this movie several times as a kid. I don’t know why, but it seemed like it was on multiple times a year and each time I was forced to watch it.

If anything, The Sound of Music may be single-handedly responsible for making movies one of my least favorite forms of entertainment.

Satan is a deceiver. He endeavors to make us think that sin is mostly harmless. If he can get you to let down your guard, who knows what sins he can pull past you before you’re even aware of what’s going on.

How many of the modern day “Christian” themed movies are nothing more than a marketing ploy to get money from Christians to support other sin-filled entertainment companies? How many of these films make Christians more comfortable going to movies? It’s no big deal. Only legalists don’t go to movies.

There is nothing unclean of itself, but all things can be used in a sinful way. Some Christians still consider going to movies a sin no matter what movie is playing. Others are fine with it. Let each man by fully persuaded in his own mind remembering your stand before the Lord.

As for me, I will never watch The Sound of Music again because I love Jesus.

James McPherson on Writing

James McPherson, one of my favorite Civil War historians, was recently interviewed about his writing process. I would love to be able to write like this man.

mcpherson

Looking back at his older writing, he admits he had many faults.

I had yet to learn not to use two or more words when one would do, to use the active voice and action verbs whenever possible, and to keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum.

Getting better at writing happens by writing and:

In the final analysis, I think that one learns how to write by reading good writing and consciously or subconsciously absorbing the models while retaining one’s own voice. Writers like Allen Nevins, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Richard Hofstadter, David Herbert Donald, George Mowry, and Arthur Link.

Good stuff. Good guy. I wanna write gooder.

Lowest Recorded Body Temperature by a Living Person

The human body typically maintains a temperature of 98.6 degrees. Through a series of beautifully designed processes, the body tries to maintain this temperature despite environmental challenges.

Shivering is a typical response to cold as your body works to get blood moving. Goose bumps form as little air pockets to add insulation. Your blood flow will dilate or constrict in an effort to save the body.

Hypothermia sets in if the body temp drops to 95 degrees.

Which begs the question: What is the lowest recorded body temperature of all time? I’m so glad you asked.

56.7 degrees! That’s the lowest body temperature recorded by a surviving victim. She was a skier who fell through the ice and was rescued after 80 minutes. She survived with only some permanent nerve damage.

The previous record was held by an anonymous homeless woman found sleeping on the streets of Chicago in -11 temperatures. She was thought to be dead, but a faint heartbeat was detected. Her core body temp was 64.

The body is an amazing thing. So fragile, yet so resilient. A marvel of creation.

The Prosperity Gospel and Death

Very captivating article about the Prosperity Gospel and death, written by a historian of the Prosperity Gospel movement who is dying of cancer.

A snippet:

The prosperity gospel holds to this illusion of control until the very end. If a believer gets sick and dies, shame compounds the grief. Those who are loved and lost are just that — those who have lost the test of faith. In my work, I have heard countless stories of refusing to acknowledge that the end had finally come. An emaciated man was pushed about a megachurch in a wheelchair as churchgoers declared that he was already healed. A woman danced around her sister’s deathbed shouting to horrified family members that the body can yet live. There is no graceful death, no ars moriendi, in the prosperity gospel. There are only jarring disappointments after fevered attempts to deny its inevitability.

The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty. The movement has perfected a rarefied form of America’s addiction to self-rule, which denies much of our humanity: our fragile bodies, our finitude, our need to stare down our deaths (at least once in a while) and be filled with dread and wonder. At some point, we must say to ourselves, I’m going to need to let go.

The Methodist Roots of Harper Collins Publishing

I’ve been doing some reading on Christian denominations lately. While reading about Methodist history in America, I came across something I never knew before.

James, John, Joseph, and Fletcher Harper were brothers who grew up in New York during the early part of the 19th Century. They were raised in a strict Methodist environment.

At age 16, James became a publisher’s apprentice and eventually went into the publishing business with his brother John. Over the years, all four brothers were involved in the company.

The Harper Brothers
The Harper Brothers

Their goal was to have a publishing business based on “character, not capital,” which may be why they fell into financial problems later on.

Along with books, they began publishing Harper’s Monthly Magazine, Harper’s Weekly, and Harper’s Bazar. Harper’s Monthly is the second oldest monthly periodical in the US (behind Scientific American).

Their goal was to publish only “interesting, instructional, and moral” literature.

The book that really put Harper’s Brothers on the map was the publication of Ben Hur, which sold over 2.5 million copies by 1913.

All of their publishing was founded heavily on their Methodist upbringing and morals.

Their business fell into rough financial water in 1899 only to be bailed out by JP Morgan. The business was no longer under family control from that point on. The publishing business later became Harper Collins.

Interesting. Church History: you never know what you’ll learn.

***Credit for many of the above facts goes to Christian History Magazine.

The New Blog

For 13 years I have blogged at the Anti-Itch Meditation. That blog title was referencing 2 Timothy 4:3–in the last days they will not endure sound doctrine but will have itching ears. People want to be told what they want to hear.

I made it my ambition to tell people what they didn’t want to hear. I questioned long-held beliefs, commonly said Christian phrases, authors, pastors, Joel Osteen, the Church in general, and anyone else who had an eye I felt needed a finger poked into.

Since this was my approach, I annoyed a lot of people. Annoying people on the internet is fun for a time. Then it just gets old.

There is also the slight chance I may be maturing. Maybe I’m coming to see the value of edification and not just tearing down. It’s possible, but probably not.

I’m mostly just sick of arguing.

I needed to poke people in the eye. It helped me learn. It helped me analyze my previously un-analyzed faith. I poked my own eye a fair amount of the time.

But now I just want to chill. Cut back on the eye-poking. I don’t want to have an overriding purpose of causing problems. I just want to live life and make comments about it. Hopefully be helpful. I wanted to make a fresh start, do something different. Leave off the purpose of telling people what they don’t want to hear.

I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve read the Bible many times now and preached through the whole thing. I know more now than ever before, and I know better questions now too. I’m still going to analyze and will, no doubt, find fault with someone along the way. But I also hope to just chill and have some fun.