And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
Poor John. Charged with describing his vision of heaven using earthly words, he ends up talking about dragons, crowns, horns and “streets of gold like transparent glass.” As most know, gold is not transparent. The reason he uses this imagery is because at the time glass was rare and valuable. Our take-away is that, in addition to other amazing aspects of the life to come, it is so remarkable that the rarest of resources are used in the most pedestrian ways – i.e., to pave the streets. We are wise to understand John’s descriptions less as photographs than as signposts, and realize that what they are describing is beyond description.
It’s Worth Noting That: 1) Our goal isn’t merely to memorize Scripture, but to “learn it by heart.” We want to drive God’s Word so deep into our subconscious that it changes the soundtrack animating our life; 2) Given that parents – and grandparents – think about the future (and value different things) because they see it through the eyes of their children, the fact that a growing number of educators and legislators do not have children of their own is troubling; 3) Spiritual Disciplines are not about making us more precious to God. They are about making God more precious to us; 4) Yes, Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes. But it was the tax collectors and prostitutes who came away changed, not Jesus; 5) Angrily defending truth is not a Fruit of the Spirit.
Predicted: In his 1985 book, Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah: 1) Noted that the U.S. fostered the most individualistic culture in the world; 2) Observed that our culture was counter-balanced by religious “denunciations of self-centeredness and calls to love our neighbor;” and 3) Predicted that if religion declined, American individualism would foster “social fragmentation, economic inequality, family breakdown and other dysfunctions.”
One of the Best Things: In this letter, a friend shares the steps he took to help his children navigate their passage to adulthood in a culture lacking formal rites of passage.
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WOTW: A college friend keeps nominating apricity – which refers to “the warmth of the sun in winter.” I keep not selecting it because Sheri and I do not live in Florida, like he does, so we have little opportunity to appreciate apricity. I am also declining to give honorable mention honors to humbly-confident (or confidently-humble), because I’m not sure what they mean or how they differ from one other. I’m giving honorable mention to moral hazard and contagion, which owe their latest 15 minutes of Warholian fame to SVB and Credit Suisse’s collapse. (I hope to have no reason to mention them again.) Meanwhile, the winner is…… the To-Don’t List, which Arthur Brooks writes about in this Atlantic piece. I have written “create a To-Don’t List” on my To-Do list.
From Last Week: 1) Several wrote me to affirm Classical Christian schools in general, and North Star’s Creed in particular; and 2) One man pushed back on my comments about Jesus and his disciples walking from Galilee to Jerusalem. He noted that the text says they traveled “in one Accord” (Honda).
The Question: The question isn’t, “Why are so many young men: not going to college, not moving out of the basement, not marrying the women they sleep with, not limiting their screen time, not saying ‘no’ to porn and not limiting their video game consumption? Those things are easy to do. The question we need to be asking is, “How do we rebuild the structures that call them forward?”
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Without Comment: 1) The odds of having a perfect NCAA bracket were 1 in 9.2 quintillion before Fairleigh Dickinson stunned Purdue; 2) 47% of Americans believe that pre-pandemic normalcy is unattainable for them;¹ 3) This article explores the causes of the 60% drop in the U.S. marriage rate over the last 50 years; 4) This week marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War and the 30th anniversary of Ground Hog Day, the movie starring Bill Murray, not the Feb. 2 focus on Punxsutawney Phil; 5) This WSJ article notes that in the past decade, college enrollment has declined by 15%, while the number of apprentices in the trades has increased by more than 50%; 6) In 1994, fewer than a quarter of people in both parties rated the other party very unfavorably; now 62% of Republicans and 54% of Democrats have a “very unfavorable” view of the other party, and 20% – i.e., 60M people – think Republican- and Democratic-leaning states should split into separate countries; 7) According to Census Bureau data, more than 11% of Americans aged 18 to 24 lived with a romantic partner who’s not a spouse last year, the highest share ever.
Closing Prayer: Lord, because you have made me, I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you my whole being. I pray you, Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding. I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you. Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of your love. I am wholly yours by creation; make me all yours, too, in love. Amen.(Anselm 1033-1109)