Month: January 2015



One of the more prominent scholars of the 20th century has just passed from the scene.  Marcus Borg was a liberal scholar famous (and infamous) for being part of the “Jesus seminar.”  Like many in Christianity’s left wing, he denied the Resurrection of Jesus and the idea of an afterlife.  (One of my ideas for the website I’m working on is to have a “rogues’ gallery” of personages who have done harm to the orthodox and traditional faith of the Christian Church, and Borg would be among the top candidates).

To his credit, he is reputed to have been a genial fellow:  “He patiently listened to all sides of the debates and knew the strengths of evangelicalism and historic orthodoxy, even if he pointed more often to weaknesses. Borg was the kind of progressive/liberal theologian who welcomed evangelicals to the table—as long as they would listen, as well” (From article linked below).  He was a friend of N. T. Wright, with whom he disagreed on many points.

For now, his soul is in the hands of God, and I wish peace to who were close to him.

For more on his legacy, check out this article from Christianity Today:

My wife noticed some suspiciously unruly service animals at her workplace last month, and wondered about this.  Looking into the situation further, it appears that there is a veritable epidemic of fraud.  Ordinary pet owners are passing off their mangy beasts as trained service dogs.

There is no shortage of news features on this increasingly common practice.  Here is one of those articles, from 2013:

CHICAGO (CBS) – Despicable. That’s the word used by advocates for the disabled to describe the newest trend – people disguising their dogs as service dogs to travel, shop, and even go to night clubs.

“People think what they’re doing is harmless but it’s not. It’s very harmful,” said Marcie Davis, founder of International Assistance Dog Awareness Week.

As a paraplegic, Davis uses a real service dog, one that’s been trained and certified over hundreds of hours.

Read it all:



“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Source: Strength to Love, a collection of sermons and essays published in 1963.




I was looking at children’s prayers for bedtime, and came across something very interesting.  One of the common prayers that has made it into compendiums of nursery rhymes and children’s prayers is the “Four Corners” prayer.  A common form of this prayer goes something like this:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on. Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

The rhyme dates back to at least the 1600s in Britain, and is likely much older.  A German version dates to medieval times.  The first English text is found in a treatise on witchcraft, where the verse is mentioned in a negative context.


There were several “paternosters” (derived from Latin for “our father”), which were associated with colors, perhaps initially associated with colored prayer beads.  These poems are thought to be corruptions of prayers that became used as magic charms.  The “white Paternoster” (a version of which is found in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale of 1387) was used for morning.  The “black paternoster” was used at bedtime.  A “green paternoster” was earlier condemned as blasphemous by the Bishop of Lincolon, Robert Grosseteste, 1175–1253.

Somehow, the “black paternoster” escaped the anti-witchcraft and anti-catholic sentiments of the 17th century to become a favorite children’s rhyme in England, esp in the 20th century.  Perhaps this may be credited to Anglican priest, scholar and hymn-writer, Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924.


He published it as part of a collection of folksongs called Songs of the West, first published in 1891 (This book is now freely available in the public domain:

The poem has been set to music by the composer Gustav Holst, 1874-1934 (of “the Planets” fame).  Here is a snippet of a recording by the Holst Singers, under Stephen Layton.

The full version is available for sale, by Hyperion records,

Sources: Images are from Wikipedia.  The lovely painting is “Four corners to my bed” by Isobel Lilian Gloag (1868-1917))


Since this blog is attached to a website called “the underground church”, it is only fitting to reference an article related to this idea.

Recently–well, in 2011–an article was circulated indicating an idea that soon “real” Christians will begin withdrawing into secrecy. From an article in Christianity Today: “Christian churches in America will soon be forced to go underground if they want to stay true to their beliefs and to God, a conservative broadcast commentator warned.”

He decries the existing public churches as having abandoned their true mission: “Their pastors ‘preach’ feel good ‘sermonettes’ about the environment and things like ‘social justice.’ In my opinion, that is not the mission of a church that purports to follow Christ. In fact, Christ, Himself, spelled out the mission of the church in what we refer to as The Great Commission.” … “That commission from Christ is the sole reason why the church exists today, Longstreet stressed.”

Is this paranoid, or prophetic?

Read it all:


From the Living Church comes this sad news:  “The Rt. Rev. James Jelinek, interim rector of St. Paul’s Parish, K Street [in Washington, DC], since August 2013, has written about the parish entering a phase of discernment about women’s ordination to the priesthood and same-sex marriage.”

Up until this time, “…in order to keep our focus on what unites us — the centrality of the Eucharist and our mission as the Body of Christ — we have tended to avoid addressing some critical issues, including the role of women clergy at St. Paul’s and the blessing of same-sex unions/marriages. During the current transition, we have begun to explore these questions.”

I think it is probably foregone how the discernments will conclude, and there is probably no stopping the progressive steamroller here as has been the case in other churches that have fallen.  Still, we should pray for this church and hope that they can keep that centrality of focus on Eucharist and mission to which they had been holding up to this point.

Read it all here:’s-k-st



Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day”

HENRI J.M.NOUWEN,  Dutch priest, professor and writer



The movie directed by Angelina Jolie tells of the remarkable experiences of Louis Zamperini during WWII. Apparently something remarkable happened after the war, as well.

His marriage on the rocks, his life in shambles, he went to a meeting by the evangelist Billy Graham:

“The moment the invitation began, he grabbed his wife’s hand and headed toward the exit. But in the aisle, overwhelmed by the realization of how broken his life had become, he turned around and gave his life to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. He left the tent with God’s complete forgiveness.

“From that day forward, everything changed. He started reading the Bible. His nightmares disappeared, he gave up drinking, his hatred and violent anger melted away, and he began to live for Christ.”

Read it all:


While trapped on an airplane, my youngest son happened to start watching the History channel’s take on the book of Revelation, called “Revelation: The End of Days”. Once again, it amazes me how one particular view of eschatology, and a minority one at that, seems to get all the press.

Here again, we have the pre-tribulation rapture, followed by a rise of an anti- Christ in government (a FEMA- like entity, no less). There are some clever takes on the nature of the first beast (a seven headed bacteria, unleashed by the FEMA- like entity to aid its rise to power).

The show was respectful of Christians, which is always welcome. Although, on the other hand, I have to say that the Christians portrayed here are not typical clean cut churchgoers, but rather your scruffy “Doomsday prepper”
cults. The production quality was what you would expect of a made-for-TV disaster movie or mockumentary. There was a bit too much jerky handheld camera footage for my taste. Still, for airplane entertainment, one could do worse. “Pass the pretzels, son.”