Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Excerpt on The T'ang Dynasty

At the funeral of Tai-tsung his successor, Kao-tsung, saw Wu, one of his father's concubines, who pleased him so much that, contrary to law, he took her into his own harem. Raised to the rank of empress and left mother of an infant son, she swayed the sceptre after Kao-tsung's death for twenty-one years. Beginning as regent she made herself absolute.

A system of civil service examinations which had sprung up with the revival of learning under the Hans was now brought to maturity. For good or for evil it has dominated the mind of the Empire for twelve centuries. Now, however, the leaders of thought have begun to suspect that it is out of date. The new education requires new tests; but what is to hinder their incorporation in the old system? To abolish it would be fraught with danger, and to modify it is a delicate task for the government of the present day.

That the scholar should hold himself in readiness to serve the state no less than the soldier was an acknowledged principle. It was reserved for the statesmen of T'ang to make it the mainspring of the government. To them belongs the honour of constructing a system which would stimulate literary culture and skim the cream of the national talent for the use of the state. It had the further merit of occupying the minds of ambitious youth with studies of absorbing interest, thus diverting them from the dangerous path of political conspiracy.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bryan College in 2017

Last weekend I went to Bryan College to see the solar eclipse. I'm glad I went and the weather cooperated completely. This visit to Dayton, Tennessee, also provided opportunities for me to have extended conversations with people I know and respect at the college about some of the controversies that have come up in recent years. I went into this with an open mind and asking broad, open-ended questions. One could call this a “listening tour” of sorts, though that implies having more plans than I had to do something with what I learned afterwards. My plan and hope was to listen to both sides, and I did. Some of these conversations did not touch on the controversies at all.

Based on what I had read and conversations I had even right after arriving in town, I anticipated finding a spirit of fear on campus and among the faculty. I did not find that.

At Bryan College and among its people, I found a warm spirit of gratitude to God for all that He is doing there at the college and people thankful for the opportunity to be part of that.

When gently probing under the surface, I also found pain. Enduring what feels like attacks leaves hurt.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse at Bryan College

At the suggestion of one of my old college roommates, I returned to the town where I went to college for a long weekend as it was in the path of totality for the solar eclipse.

I had read in the media like The Washington Post and some of the tech press that totality is worth the hype and distinctly different from a partial solar eclipse. I had an interest in talking to some people at my alma mater anyway, so even if the weather did not cooperate, I considered it worth the trip.

The Washington Post traffic blog also suggested that traffic heading toward locations in the path of totality was expected to build significantly starting 48 hours prior to the eclipse itself, so I made the 9-hour drive on Friday. (I had not checked to see what the traffic forecast was for the day after, and I expect I would have spent less time driving back today than I did yesterday. It was interesting having some of the traffic experience though: different license plates, etc. I noticed a lot of cars from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.)

The eclipse in Dayton was from approximately 1 to 4 PM with totality from about 2:32 PM to 2:34 PM. I set a couple alarms on my phone to help warn me and others around me when it would be the safe time to view the sun's corona without any solar glasses. It did not disappoint.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Broader and Deeper than Mere Secession

An excerpt of “Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”:

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession if territory and the establishment of a new nation.

Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the administration and reverence of humanity.

There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Was Joseph an Aspergian?

My question is about Joseph of old, and Asperger's, a condition mostly studied during my lifetime. There are a few things in the story of Joseph that make me wonder about Joseph's neurological wiring. None of this is to downplay the role the Lord played in this whole situation, but perhaps this was one of the things the Lord used, or even one of the things that got in Joseph's way.

Joseph had a dozen siblings, mostly brothers, mostly older, and he was beloved by their father. One day (or night) he has a dream that he was going to be over them even outside the context of their father's love (Genesis 36:6-8). There's no indication he thought about how that might go over with them, nor does the text indicate any bad intent on his part. It seems he simply viewed it as sharing information. I've heard this text preached a few times, and usually the preacher condemns Joseph at this point for either being a jerk or not having a clue. Maybe he doesn't have a clue. Maybe he didn't think and wasn't wired to think that way. His father liked him. He dreamed about people liking him. Why wouldn't people like him?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Best Advice Reagan Ever Received

In Hand of Providence is the story of Ronald Reagan getting his first job as a radio announcer.

His father had concurred with news reports advising people to stay in their own communities, even though he himself had been an ambitious man whose dreams had been crushed by the Depression. Quoting Reagan's autobiography: “I think he understood the fire that was burning inside me—a drive to make something of myself—that had always burned inside him.” His father let Reagan borrow the family car to continue his quest.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Evangelistic Nature of Suffering

God reveals much in the Scriptures about those who suffer. One of His primary purposes in suffering is evangelism. When those who suffer are “not in any way terrified” by their persecutors, it is “to them a proof of perdition” (Philippians 1:28). It is also “an occasion for testimony” (Luke 21:13). Our suffering, even among the most severely persecuted, is truly “light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) compared to those who are treasuring up for themselves “wrath in the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5) and for whom “the treasury of hail” (Job 38:22) may also be light compared to the undiluted wrath of God “poured out without mixture” (Revelation 14:10). Suffering for Christ is a small price to pay for those facing misery without hope and who need to hear the Good News.

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