Today we pause to remember

On August 29, 2005, hurricane Katrina made landfall, bringing untold amounts of damage to New Orleans and the Mississippi coast.

The day before was a Sunday.  It was a sunny day, if a little hot, here in Atlanta.  The evening was a beautiful, delightfully balmy late August evening.  It was completely surreal to be here under those conditions, knowing that only a few hours away an epic storm was on the way, bringing with it untold amounts of death and destruction.

Sure enough, the storm proved to be just as bad as feared, though it seemed that New Orleans had escaped the worst of it.  The next day, reports surfaced that one of the levees had breached and that almost the entire city was under several feet of water.

In the days that followed, the media was overwhelmed with ghastly images and stories coming out of New Orleans.  Stories of violence and looting throughout the city; stories of horrific conditions faced by people unable to leave the city who had sought refuge at the Superdome; stories of horrifically bungled responses by the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, and other political leaders.

It has now been six years since that horrible day.  New leadership is in place in both the city and the state of Louisiana.  The city continues to rebuild slowly but surely, though many areas remain very badly damaged.

And here we are again:  it is Monday, and another major hurricane is approaching another major city.  This past weekend was beautiful, if a little hot, here in Atlanta, while elsewhere another major city faces the prospect of untold amounts of death and destruction headed its way.

Biologos: Was There Death Before the Fall?

Today, allow me to piggyback on the previous post in which I linked Daniel Harrell’s take on evolution and death before the Fall by directing you to an article over at the Biologos blog which addresses the same question.  The article references passages from Genesis, Romans, and 1 Corinthians which appear to indicate that physical death is tied to the Fall and shows that that is not necessarily the case.  The article contends that physical death for animals–and for proto-humans who came about through evolutionary processes before Adam and Eve were created–was a fact of life long before the Fall, but for humans–Adam and Eve and their descendents–physical death was not part of the equation until after the Fall.

Daniel Harrell: Evolution, Christianity, and Death

One of the stickiest issues of all for those Christians who do not hold to a literal six-day creation that happened about 10,000 years ago is the question of death.  Was death a part of the world prior to the Fall?

Common sense would indicate, to me at least, that the answer is yes.  It is not unusual for me to be out riding my bike and see squirrels who died after falling out of trees and hitting the ground.  Did squirrels just not climb trees prior to the Fall?  Was there some kind of magical mojo hanging over the world prior to the Fall that kept squirrels from losing their balance and falling out of trees?  I find it very hard to believe that either of these was the case.

Daniel Harrell offers his take on the possibility of death existing before the Fall.  In his view, physical death was part of the equation all along.  But when Adam and Eve sinned, death became something completely different.  Death was no longer just the end of physical life, it became a state of separation from God, the complete and utter end of any possibility of relationship with God.

Death has occurred since the first breath of biological life (and some would say since the first “breath” of cosmological life), long before Adam inhaled. Ironically, therefore, death must be a part of God’s good creation. Moreover, human death due to sin must be something different than the physical death we all die. Theologically speaking, death is alienation from God. It is death as the termination of relationship. It’s what Jesus describes as an ethereal chasm between the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus (Luke 16:19-26).

Read Daniel Harrell:  Evolution, Christianity, and Death

Les Miserables 69: To Sadness, Sadness And a Half

Last time we looked at the part where Marius falls in love with Cosette.  We had already seen what it was like from Marius’s point of view, and we saw the same event from Cosette’s point of view.  But what was it like from Jean Valjean’s point of view?

We have already seen that Valjean loved Cosette very much, and he desperately wanted Cosette to continue to love him like she did as a child.  But with Cosette’s transition to adolescence, things were starting to change in their relationship; Cosette was becoming more independent and less interested in Valjean.  The worst thing for Valjean at this point would be for another man to fall in love with Cosette and take her away from him.  So when Marius enters the picture, you can imagine that Valjean will not take it very well.

Every condition has its instinct.  The old eternal mother, Nature, silently warned Jean Valjean of Marius’s presence.  Jean Valjean shuddered in his innermost being.  Seeing nothing, knowing nothing, he still gazed persistently at the darkness surrounding him, as if he perceived on one side something being built, and on the other something collapsing.  Marius, also warned, and according to the deep law of God, by this same mother, Nature, did all that he could do to hide himself from the “father.”  It sometimes happened, however, that Jean Valjean did catch sight of him.  Marius’s ways became quite unnatural.  He had a suspicious caution and an awkward boldness.  He no longer came near them; he would sit some distance away, and remained there in an ecstasy; he had a book and pretended to be reading; why did he pretend?  He used to wear his old suit, now he had on his new suit every day; it was not entirely certain that he did not curl his hair, he had strange eyes, he wore gloves; in short, Jean Valjean cordially detested this young man.

Continue reading “Les Miserables 69: To Sadness, Sadness And a Half”

Quick Hit: Conference Realignment Revisited

Last year the college football world was all abuzz with talk of a potential realignment that would have the Big 12 imploding with half the league going out to the Pac 10 and the other half joining up with the SEC or Big 10 or wherever, setting off a massive ripple effect that would transfigure the entire college football landscape.  In the wake of that, I noted that this sort of earth-shattering conference realignment seems to happen about once every ten years, and I mapped out the effects of the last two rounds of realignment.

As it turned out, nothing ever came of that.  Nebraska joined the Big 10 and Colorado defected to the Pac 10, but the rest of the Big 12 stayed put.  Texas got a crazy exclusive deal with ESPN to launch its own sports network, but the rest of the Big 12 was willing to go along with this because they were just happy to have a conference home.

But now, there are rumblings that Texas A&M is getting ready to defect to the SEC.  There are also rumors that Oklahoma might be joining the SEC.  AJC sports columnist Mark Bradley gives his analysis of the rumors swirling, especially as far as Texas and Oklahoma are concerned.  AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz is dead set opposed to this; in his view the fact that the NCAA is willing to tolerate this sort of thing is a sign that they have lost their mission.

What say you, people?

A Nostalgic Win: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys is not a movie that I ever saw, and it is not one that I plan on seeing anytime in the near present future.  It is a horror-ish movie about teenage vampires in California who bite people and cause them to turn into Harold Camping.  There is enough craziness out in California that I don’t need to worry about teenage vampires.  But the soundtrack is a classic 80’s soundtrack, right up there with 9 1/2 Weeks (objectionable movie, great soundtrack) and Pretty In Pink.

The soundtrack features “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” by Roger Daltrey, which would later be remade by George Michael and Elton John.  It also features performances by INXS, Lou Gramm (former lead singer of Foreigner), and Echo and the Bunnymen, as well as lesser known artists Gerard McMann, Eddie and the Tide, and Tim Cappello.

There is enough craziness out in California without having to worry about teenage vampires.

In short, this album is a must-have for those of you who are nostalgic about movie soundtracks from the best decade of music gone by, the 80’s.

Chaplain Mike: Living as Easter People

Today, please allow me to direct your attention to a post from Chaplain Mike at internetmonk.com in which he unpacks Colossians 3 concerning our new identity in Christ.  He focuses in on verses 5-11, which describe what our new identity is supposed to look like at ground level.

Paul focuses in on how we are supposed to live as new people.  He gives a specific list of sins to avoid, which focuses on two areas:  sexual sins and sins of speech.  Both of these areas affect our relationships with other people.  Sexual sins grow out of a self-centered pursuit of gratification which is evidence of idolatry, while the sins of speech are practices which are obviously harmful to relationships with other people.  The bottom line here is that all the practices which Paul enumerates are contrary to love.  Love is what we are called to as Christians, and as people who have been freed from the curse of sin and death, we are free to love.

Read “Living as Easter People” by Chaplain Mike