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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Frustration Continues

We visited another Church today (I will refrain from giving the name of the church or its denomination). We actually found this one after looking in our local phone book, there was no mention at all about a "contemporary" worship. However, when we arrived and the service began, the first thing that happened was the minister (pastor/preacher) of the church yelled out and said "Look, here comes insert the person's name!" Suddenly, running up the center isle of the church was a man with a warm up suit on and a back-pack on his back.

As soon as the man, who was running up the isle, reached the front of the sanctuary the minister said, "You look like you have a load of unforgiveness on your back!" And the man replied, "yes, and it's weighing me down." The minister replied, "Here, let me help you," and he proceeded to dig through the backpack and pull out a big rock that had the word "Unforgiveness" carved into it.

Now, this was all done, we were told, to stress the importance of the sermon for today. The sermon, of course, was appropriately titled "How to Lose the Weight of Unforgiveness." As soon as this "drama" was over, I turn to my wife and said, "Let's go!" However, she wanted to stay so she could see how they performed the Lord's Table, so I agreed, and we stayed. While the service itself and the sermon was not "heretical" (for lack of a better term), it did only get worse from that point. I will refrain from any further detail.

However, here was one of the songs we sang during the service. I post it here because it reminds me of the songs that Chris Tilling has been posting at his own blog. This was one of the songs:

"I Could Sing of Your Love Forever"
Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the Healer set me free.
I'm happy to be in the truth,
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when Your love came down.

I could sing of Your Love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever.
I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever.

Oh I feel like dancing, it's foolish I know.
But when the world has seen the light,
They will dance with joy like we're dancing now.

(repeat chorus over and over until you want to strangle the person next to you)

We repeated the chorus over and over like a mantra until by the eight time we had repeated it I was ready to pull my hair out. Needless to say, we continue to look for a church home.


Blogger C. Stirling Bartholomew said...


Once again, Déjà Vu, was he bouncing a basketball?

I might have been willing to put up with the elevator music and the bizarre sermons but the guy running in from a side door bouncing a basketball and yelling was the end for me.

Keep the faith.


2:03 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Welcome to my blog, I read your comment on my other post titled Churches in America.

No, this guy was just running with a backback up to the front.

I did visit another church some time ago where the pastor's cell phone, during his sermon, rang. He then stopped, took the phone out of inside coat pocket and began talking to "the mystery person who called." The call ended up being from God and the pastor's point was that we all have a direct line to God anytime anywhere.

2:07 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

I loved your ‘Let's go!’ reaction - and that after a completely harmless drama!!

What, with your desire to strangle Christians in the act of worship makes me wonder if a certain sort of deliverance ministry might not be of help ... ;-)

2:22 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

I'm with ya Todd. What complete crap.

2:33 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

To be perfectly honest I need deliverance from this world altogether! I'm just a theological fish out of water here!


3:29 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Jim said...

Todd hang in there- remember the 7000 who hadn't bowed the knee to Baal. Your lament provoked an entry of my own concerning the insipidness of culture and then a kierkegaardian quotation.

3:53 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Ben Myers said...

I know what you mean about the mantra-like repetition of tacky choruses. A while ago we were visiting a church, and one of the songs went on for so long that I turned to my wife and said: "If we have to sing that bloody line one more time, I'm going to kill myself."

5:22 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger nelmezzo said...

I was at a church for a while that had a severe song repetition problem. I often joked that its name should have been "Our Lady of Endless Repetition".

In one church where I was, I heard the same sermon twice from the same fellow separated by a couple of months, trying to establish that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were good Christians. During that particular sermon, I wanted to gnaw on the pew (there were many moments where I almost stood up and started shouting how heretical it all was, but I concluded that doing so would have been more sinful than what he was preaching).

It's a mess alright. But I'm not sure this is too different from New Testament times, or times thereafter.

6:58 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

Next up you'll be doing the jesus calestenics.

7:37 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Ben Myers said...

You're right, Nelmezzo -- things have always been this way (and often much worse). The only period I have studied closely is the 16th and 17th centuries: and it would have been a whole lot worse trying to find a good church back then!

And as for preaching: it would be hard today to find anyone with stranger or stupider things to say than some of those 17th-century preachers, especially in England.

Happily, though, in every period there have also been good churches and great preachers -- this (and not the existence of the bad and the stupid) is the real miracle!

7:47 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger son of puddleglum said...

todd b. nimble, todd b. vick

I'm glad I found your blog. I enjoy(ed) your amazon reviews.

I prefer traditional services (sans incense though). On the other hand, considering the alternatives that other believers throughout the world face (serious jail time, churches being burned, for example) I'm thankful for what I can get here in N. America. So, do I like those contemporary choruses? Not too many of them. Can I live with that? I guess (as long as I can also complain about them) But I hope you find a good church eventually.
Take care.

12:43 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Ahh the never ending song. I am well accustomed to this one.

On Sunday they preached about how bad David was and how we shouldn't be like David which is true in his carnal Sins. He told us of the curses that happened because of Davids sin. Drawing out the simple scripture where David looked a bethsheba for ages describing what she would look like etc.

Unfortunately he missed the point, it was Solomon she bore.

I to have not found a church that comes close to even the basics of expository preaching.

1:09 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

I know what you mean too, Todd. In high school and on into college even, I often was involved with pentecostal churches (and some 'charismatic' ones too), so I'm all too familiar with the phenomenon. When I was becoming Catholic, I had a priest point out the pychological effect that this sort of thing often brings about. He wasn't too critical of it though. And upon later reflection on his comment, I think he was trying to empathize with Protestant individuals who do this sort of thing. It's an attempt at worship, and all the historic Christian traditions (in fact, all historic religions) have similar phenomena, though in differing contexts.

Catholics have the rosary, the stations of the cross, even the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) itself is intrinsically repetitious. There is something strongly psychological about such things, and they can tend to produce interesting effects, which would approximate or achieve worship, I would think. And, to me, when you take away all these ancient traditions (like the ones I mention above) and then you do the even worse thing of take away the Eucharistic Lord from the liturgy, since humans who've made religious commitments yearn for worship, it's not hard to see how mantra-like songs would take the place of the void created by doing away with these aspects of ancient Tradition.

Don't get me wrong. I completely agree with you and would not at all agree that such things could replace those thrown-away aspects of Tradition and ancient liturgy. But, I find myself in a place now where I can sympathize with why individuals willing participate in such things. But, when, like you, a person begins to get the idea that there must be much more to worship than this, I think the guantlet has been laid.

10:54 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger nelmezzo said...

I think a return to tradition is most pressing in worship. The early church did much of her theology in her worship. A lot of the time modern debates about the state of the church occur at the doctrinal level, but that buys into an assumption that forms and content of worship aren't doctrine.

I couldn't agree more with Jeremiah about what kind of void is left when a Eucharistic focus is removed from worship.

1:13 PM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger berenike said...

Well, at least "I could sing of Your love forever" is addressed directly to Our Lord, and not one of these things that go on about how much we all this or that or the other thing.

5:38 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

As much as I would like to agree with you, I do not. All one has to do is examine the first verse of this song and see that the focus is on 'self.'

Lines which include "with love for me," "I will open up my heart," "let the Healer set me free," "I'm happy to be in the truth," "I will daily lift my hands," "I will always sing," and so on.

I guess looking back over just this one verse I fail to see how all that is directed to God.

5:57 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger nelmezzo said...

TB, what do you have against my wife? First you scare her with the crocodile picture and now she informs me that she actually knows how to play that song on the guitar and likes it very much, thank you. Very much.

8:53 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Well, David, First I had no idea she was your wife. Secondly, I am glad she likes the song - I personally did not care for it (or its theological - or lack thereof, content), so we merely have a difference in taste in songs. Third, I do apologize if I offended her with my comment (no harm intended). Fourth, I also apologize if I scared her with the crocodile picture (tell her to brace herself since I have a few other pics to post in the future that might scare as well)


10:45 PM, February 10, 2006  
Anonymous Elizabeth Wright said...

Greetings Mr. (Dr.?) Vick. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm David Wright's spouse. You know, the one who he refers to as "my wife"? I visited your blog for the first time this morning and was most impressed with the pix and post on Herman Bavinck. (I attended Calvin, and my mother was an "-ink" herself, so I'm partial to Dutch reformed thinkers.) Anyway, I'm just writing to make sure you know that David's comments about me are quite in jest. Although I do like the song "I could sing of your love forever," (and translated the lyrics into Spanish because it was my Bolivian students' most requested melody), I'm aware of its weaknesses and am sympathetic to the suffering it may cause people such as yourself. Have you ever run across the ficticious anecdote about the "Brown Cow" farmer hymn? You might identify with it.

11:42 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

good to make your acquaintance as well. I am not familiar with the "Brown Cow" farmer hymn, so you will have to enlighten me on that one.

1:24 PM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Mark Traphagen said...

Here's the "Brown Cow" story (long version). This has been going around the 'net for years, but I still get a chuckle out of it. Like all the best humor, it works because it's so close to the truth!

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the farmer. "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses?" asked the wife. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked the wife.

The farmer said, "Well it's like this ... If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you, 'Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, in the CORN, CORN, CORN, COOOOORRRRRNNNNN,' then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."

As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the young man, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."

"Hymns?" asked the wife. "What are those?"

"They're okay. They're sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked the wife.

The young man said, "Well it's like this ... If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you,

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn,

then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four, and change keys on the last verse, well that would be a hymn."

7:05 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ah, I can relate to the "Brown Cow" story. But I had never heard or read that before - thanks for sharing!

9:39 AM, February 14, 2006  

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