Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
I'm a fan of time travel stories and period pieces. Well, I should be more specific on the latter. I like historical movies that really put you into the time period. I'm not so big on them when they're meticulous about all the costumes but write dialog that would not have been said by anybody before the last ten years. The John Adams miniseries is almost perfect in my book.
James Bowman wrote something on this recently, and had some recommendations I put into my Netflix queue. Based on his descriptions I added Ride with the Devil, Les Enfents du Paradis, and King's Row. He likes the same things as I do in such movies, and is even more intolerant of anachronisms, especially when the film maker didn't even seem to see it as his duty to avoid them.
Anyone have other favorites?
[Update: Ride with the Devil arrived yesterday and I watched it last night. Fine movie. The dialog was probably its strongest suit. In that, it was good the way an Aubrey/Maturin book is good. You knew whoever wrote it could distinguish something that would be said now from something that would be said back then.]
5:38 am Pacific Standard Time
Monday, May 24th, 2010
In my reading today, I ran across a couple of great items. The first is an article titled “'Oh, Ye Are For Anarchy!':
Consent Theory in the Radical Libertarian Tradition" by Carl Watner at Voluntaryist.com on Consent Theory. The article is on the history of the theory, and how the principle of consent proved to be a reductio on the idea of government. John Locke argued for it in an otherwise persuasive treatise, but his opponent Robert Filmer may have seen where the principle really leads. He just drew the wrong conclusion, that arbitrary government was necessary.
The other find was an early series of debates on liberty. These were the Putney Debates, between the Levellers on one side and Oliver Cromwell and his company on the other. We find some very early clear statements of political principles. Many of these principles are now commonplace, though they were radical in their own time. Others would be considered radical even now.
6:58 am Pacific Standard Time
Friday, May 14th, 2010
In my Bible class on Sunday, I touched on a phrase that is often used. Sometimes I hear, "If you're gonna talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk." Or as a complaint, "She talks the talk, but she doesn't walk the walk." As a general phrase, we all know what it means. Talking about things doesn't get them done. Discussing a diet theory over bonbons won't take off the pounds. So far, so good.
But when it comes to the Christian faith, I find the phrase a little less useful. It isn't that there aren't a lot of good uses for the phrase, but that you never quite know what someone is using it to mean.
My first inclination was to think that perhaps this phrase originated in Christian circles, but became secularized. But this morning, when I started researching, I found this is not so clearly true.
I didn't exactly sit down to research. Rather, I ran into an interview with Madonna where she used the phrase. Speaking of Jeffrey Sachs, Madonna says "He's extremely charismatic. Very well-spoken and charming. He's one of the few people I know who talks the talk and also walks the walk. He thinks very big." The two of them do poverty work. So this means that the man not only talks about the importance of helping the poor, but he also actively helps them. The use of the phrase here is not specifically Christian, but everyone can follow it.
When I looked up the origin of the phrase, I found someone's reference to the fact that the earliest use he could document was from the Ohio newspaper The Mansfield News, June 1921:
"Although he has no gilded medals upon his bosom, Howard Herring of the North American Watch company, walks the walk, and talks the talk, of a hero today."
This use is not specifically Christian, either. Now, my own research on this one is not extensive. So I don't know that this phrase did not arise in Christian circles. And the fact is, there were other quotes where similar things were said by Ben Franklin and Shakespeare. The concepts involved are now part of the common heritage of humanity. The phrase about walking the walk sounds to my ear like a sermonic phrase from the golden age of preaching. But it might also have been from the golden age of oratory in general.
I end up having double reservations. One is a reservation against attacking the use of the phrase. There are some Biblical parallels. Think of "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1:22). Yet we cannot just leave this here. In Romans we also find a parallel, but in the middle of a sustained argument. St. Paul says, "for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified" (Romans 2:13). This sounds clear enough. Not mere exposure to the Law is what counts, talking the talk. But doing the Law, that is, walking the walk. But Paul doesn't stop there. "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19-20). Here we find that nobody walks the walk.
If we use this phrase in the general sense to mean that what we do should in some sense match what we talk about doing, the phrase in question is still a good one. Our faith should have some impact on our lives. But often I get the sense that this phrase is used of salvation. We get to heaven by following a certain pattern of conduct. The phrase should not be used in ways that leave themselves open to that interpretation.
3:43 am Pacific Standard Time