Can Reformed Christians be Sacramental?

I was re-reading a piece by Peter Leithart on the Trinity and sacramental theology when I came across this quote:

Reformed theology has never been able to fit sacramental theology convincingly into its overall system. Even when the importance of the sacraments has been affirmed, it has often taken the form of concession rather than implication: In spite of who God is, and in spite of his sovereign distribution of grace in salvation, and in spite of his normal way of operating, God cdso communicates his presence to his people in signs and seals.

-Peter Leithart, “Framing” Sacramental Theology: Trinity and Symbol, WJT (62) 2000

A Really Thoughtful Reflection On The Long Term Implications Of Health Care Reform

ts-brooks-190David Brooks wrote a great reflection on the current Health Care legislation, the history of the animating spirit behind it, and some of the long term considerations it raises about America’s future.

In Brooks eyes, the “Republican Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of personal freedom and economic dynamism…For a similar period, the Democratic Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of fairness and family security.” Brooks is a conservative who used to write for the Weekly Standard, not an Obama devotee. What I consistently admire about his writing is his ability to see things from a number of different perspectives. Such intellectual empathy is what engenders healthy and fruitful political discourse. Without it politics becomes an all or nothing game, strike that, war, waged by the forces of light against the legions of doom and darkness.

In a column written last week before the passage of the historic health care bill Brooks had this to say about the importance of understanding the other:

Human beings, the philosophers tell us, are social animals. We emerge into the world ready to connect with mom and dad. We go through life jibbering and jabbering with each other, grouping and regrouping. When you get a crowd of people in a room, the problem is not getting them to talk to each other; the problem is getting them to shut up…To help us in this social world, God, nature and culture have equipped us with a spirit of sympathy. We instinctively feel a tinge of pain when we observe another in pain (at least most of us do). We instinctively mimic, even to a small extent, the mood, manners, yawns and actions of the people around us…To help us bond and commit, we have been equipped with a suite of moral sentiments. We have an innate sense of fairness. Children from an early age have a sense that everybody should be treated fairly. We have an innate sense of duty…As a result of this sympathy and these sentiments, people are usually pretty decent to one another when they relate person to person. The odd thing is that when people relate group to group, none of this applies. When a group or a nation thinks about another group or nation, there doesn’t seem to be much natural sympathy, natural mimicry or a natural desire for attachment… Group-to-group relations are more often marked by calculation, rivalry and coldness. Members of one group sometimes see members of another group as less than human: Nazi and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi, Sunni and Shiite.

As I pay attention to my own tweets, Facebook comments and antagonistic exchanges with those whose political sympathies differ from my own (and the sidebars I have with politically kindred spirits about “those people”), the words of Brooks cut deeply.

Brooks concluded his critical column on heath care reform with the following estimation of the challenges ahead for us as a nation:

The task ahead is to save this country from stagnation and fiscal ruin. We know what it will take. We will have to raise a consumption tax. We will have to preserve benefits for the poor and cut them for the middle and upper classes. We will have to invest more in innovation and human capital.

To rise to the occasion such realities present we’ll all have to do a little more listening.

Are You A Progressive…?

Find out now. That’s right, if you subscribe to an idea, you must subscribe to any ideology that has ever subscribed to it as well, and to every possible negative consequence remotely implied by said ideologies when you carried to absurd extremes.

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Why Ronald Reagan would be run out of a Tea Party and other conservative quips…

Last night television provided some interviews of interest for political junkies. Jay Leno marked his return to The Tonight Show by having Sarah Palin as his first guest. Meanwhile Stephen Colbert welcomed back NY Times columnist David Brooks. Palin was typical Palin and Brooks was typical Brooks. Both were entertaining and one was substantive. All in all, great entertainment. 

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