The Chair and the Desk, 3/8/16

From the chair:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

-Romans 1:28-32

I often read these lists like certain parts of the blood donation check-in: Mental pen poised to check “no, no, no, no.” However, something always goes wrong. If I read the thing at all, I invariably have to check “yes.” But wait! Something’s wrong! I’m supposed to be able to breeze through this! I’m finally realizing I never will in this life. This is who we are. We do these things. Somehow, I’m both envious and boastful. For some reason, I never see the irony in my own slander, given the foolishness of my own decisions.

Yet, though we won’t be free of sin in this age, we can still really change, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Chris, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:12-14)

From the desk:

“It is to be considered just a folly of modern times to alter a system of corrupt ethical life, its political constitution and legislation without changing the religion, to have made a revolution without a reformation, to suppose that with the old religion and its sanctities a political constitution opposed to it can have internal peace and harmony, and that stability can be procured for the laws by external guarantees, e.g. so-called chambers, and the power given them to determine the budget and the like.”

-Hegel, Philosophy of Mind (Clarendon: 2007), p.254

I’m troubled by the vitriol of this American presidential election season, but I also hope to avoid two conclusions: On the one hand, a political tragedy cannot tear apart our world, because our world is made and maintained by a God who works not only in but also in spite of our political realities. On the other, we shouldn’t put too much hope in political salvation, because a mere change in externals, without internal transformation, is a fragile, distant, and impotent change.


“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.



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