Saturday, October 25, 2008

a biblical passage for bloggers?

Proverbs 25:8-10 (ESV)
What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.

There is a time to discuss things publicly and about publicly said and done things, and there is a time to discuss things privately. Bloggers, it would too often seem, don't understand this. We tell ourselves we do, I tell myself I do, but that doesn't mean I'm good at consistently sticking to this. To the extent that I have concerns or disagreements with people or organizations my hope is, by the grace of God, I can understand and distinguish between concerns that are legitimately pertinent to the public sphere and that which is best kept private. If something is on record and in the public sphere then certainly I have no problems at all writing about those things. Things that are not in that domain I try to either not write about at all or in a way that is not particularly dependent on actual release of information. So to speak, parables or obscure sayings. There are ways of talking around a subject when talking about a subject is not fitting in a public sphere.

Not everyone gets this and not everyone recognizes when and where those distinctions need to be made. As with cyber-life so with life everywhere else. I have bungled things in this area in the last couple of years saying things that I thought were innocuous that turned out to be very hurtful because I didn't understand that things that seemed generous and sympathetic were, to a recipient, considered very hurtful. Fortunately things got worked out but I have been considering that there are times when I can say something that I totally believe is harmless and simply an observation that hurts people. That isn't my intent. To the extent that someone may have read this and been upset because of something that wasn't my goal. And I have tried to be careful not to make threats or counterthreats I have seen in some other blogs on some topics where people felt they needed to stick up for themselves by making threats or counterthreats about real or perceived threats or attacks on their person or character.

I think that real and significant disagreement about politics and religion is both possible and beneficial. I have not been happy with how content people are to, as Bruce Campbell put it, to believe something because they read it on the internet. Has no one ever heard of the old saying that you can't trust something is true just because you read it in the papers? The internet has taken up that spot. Things are not necessarily true because someone spams you with an account about Obama being an antichrist or this or that senator wanting to destroy freedom of religion. Freedom of religion doesn't necessarily mean atheists have no say. It also means that religions you consider conduits for the Beast and the one-world government are ALSO protected by the first amendment. If not then, well, your priority is not the first amendment. That might make you truly anti-American, as much so as various Islamic terrorists overseas or (as some blogs and spams have it) here at home.

One of the great warnings in this proverb is that we should not hastily rush to court or blogs with information because we don't yet know that the information is reliable, accurate, or without bias ... and this is about ourselves, not others. We can invite lasting shame,shame we cannot live down, if we decide to rush into a crowd and declare that this or that person who has grieved us is wrong. They may be but we may make the situation worse by how we handle things.

Now I don't have a girlfriend and don't anticipate having a girlfriend any time soon. If I had one and she broke up with me then my friends and family would have grounds to ask me why. And I wouldn't necessarily tell them, or tell them everything. Not because as friends or family they don't have reason to ask or know, but there's such a thing as recognizing that my ex-girlfriend might have more reasons to dump me than I might even guess at, reasons that are perfectly good for her and necessary before God and neighbor. What wouldn't be fair is to suppose she's just a bad person for doing what she did or saying what she said. It might be the case that she would say something badly or even something bad, but that wouldn't necessarily be something to bring up to anyone I know. My hope would be that we could, say, have an argument and not necessarily go around bad-mouthing each other. Call me naive. :)

And it seems to be in this domain and the strange yet mundane stories sent into sex or relationship columnists that highlights how this thing can work. Perhaps what columnists don't always recognize in the various dumped or dumping men and women that they not so quietly resent is that if you're writing a columnist about how angry you are that someone dumped you aren't you basically airing someone else's secrets to another? You can do it anonymously because of professional publishing guidelines, but in principle you have aired someone else's secrets to the whole world. Authors know this and that is why many choose pseudonyms. :) There is such a thing as protecting not only the innocent but also even protecting the guilty. If this seems absurd consider the kindness of Christ who sends rain on the just and unjust alike. There are things that we might say or do that are bad that nevertheless do not need to be made matters of record because the damage of that record would outweight the significance of the alleged crime.

For instance, if Charlie Brown were to catch Snoopy stealing dog food and told Lucy about it Lucy might tell Charlie Brown that Snoopy is his own stupid beagle and why doesn't he just take care of the matter himself. If you can't discipline your own dog complaining about it to someone else won't change anything except maybe get you some wanted or unwanted advice about pet discipline.

But the Christian blogosphere seems to be a world in which Proverbs 25:8-10 magically DIDN'T make it into the canon! If I were to explain how and why I believe this is the case I would be ignoring the advice of Proverbs 25:8-10 in the very process of explanation! Since I don't want to get into a lose-lose conundrum like that if God may be so gracious to me I will simply spend some time considering things in the abstract.

I may be able to go out on a limb and consider, say, a case of a person who had a landlord. The landlord and the tenant had a dispute at one point and the landlord decided the best action would be to raise the rent and threaten potential legal consultation. The problem the landlord had was that by invoking rights of law and lawyers the landlord took retaliatory action that the tenant realized was not legal. The landlord hastily brought up issues as matters to potentially go to court by invoking lawyers, and the tenant began to enumerate all the various laws the landlord had broken during the terms of a lease with illegal terms. The landlord went from being an indignant one to a virtually servile one because the landlord was too hasty in asserting rights in a setting where tenant rights had been violated and the landlord took retaliatory actions against being asked by the tenant to adhere to the law of the land in providing basic services and amenities to the tenant's residence.

The landlord rushed to make the case a legal issue without recognizing his/her own failure to comply with the law. It can be very tempting for Christians in blogs or in life generally to take harsh and immediate action on the supposition that I'm right and the other guy is wrong without considering my own culpability that has led to the situation. If I were to have a dispute with my brother about how he lost a ticket I bought for him but if I still owed him money then if I pressed him about the lost ticket as an issue of money I would get myself in trouble if I owed him more money than the cost of the ticket.

If, however, I explained that the lost ticket was a concern about time and trust rather than money, it would be a better case. Not perfect, but better. But by doing that I would also need to be open to the realization that my owing money is part of the problem. I can't rush to judge my brother for losing a ticket if I also owe him money. At that point we share in the same problem, bad stewardship. :) We would need to be gracious to each other because we have a common failing rather than just be indignant that the other person wronged me through intent or through accident.

But in both cases it would be beneficial to not rush to my brother and say "You're wrong because of X". It would also be beneficial not to sit and stew about it for a long time, either, of course. The godly man avoids all extremes. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to blog and a time to not blog. Wisdom begins in fearing the Lord and asking Him to provide wisdom on what, when, where, and how to blog, and when blogging is not the solution.

There are times and places to blog publicly but sometimes, I believe, we Christians spiritualize reasons to pretend Proverbs doesn't tell us what it clearly tells us. Rather than discern that some things can be resolved off-line or in person and in private we decide to throw down the gauntlet about things that don't need to be public knowledge. Thing is, all Christians seem to suck at this. It's easy to quote Proverbs 25:8-10 when you think SOMEONE ELSE should be following it. When you think you've been wronged or someone you like has been wronged it's EASY to quote. It's harder to quote when you realize YOU'RE the one who's been an idiot and recklessly brought things out in the open that shouldn't have been. For the most part, so far as I know, I have managed to sort things out with people I have hurt by saying things in bulk emails or other settings where I hurt people, often without realizing it. But that doesn't mean my work is done.

At this point to get to some potential application for you, since if you're seeing this at all you're reading it--who (singular or plural) have you had a conflict with where you brought things out into the open when perhaps you shouldn't have? By now it may be too late and the damage has been done. Or perhaps you have been on the receiving end of some other Christian ignoring the wisdom of Scripture and making his or her conflict with you a matter for the public gaze? We can pray the Lord convicts that person of their sin against you.

But what we may not be able to do is to lessen the damage that person brings on themselves. As Scripture warns, the person who overhears may reproach and the bad report will not be lived down. Once you reveal another's secret you can't unreveal it. It won't be forgotten. And you won't live down the bad report. There is grace in Christ and forgiveness from brothers and sisters, but some things can't be undone. My conviction of late is that I and too many other Christians who blog or speak into the public sphere or send spam don't realize how much damage we can do and how lasting that damage is not only to others but to ourselves.

It can be too tempting for me to label someone else as simply not a brother in Christ because I don't like him, because I disagree with his politics or disagree with him on a particular doctrinal issue that I consider essential that may not be quite so essential. There are Calvinists who love to call Arminians heretics and Arminians who love to say Calvinists are heretics. There are Republicans who do not acknowledge that Christians can vote Democratic, and there are Christians who so detest Republicanism in all its forms they refuse to discern the body of Christ and refuse to acknowledge that there are actual Christians who vote Republican. What unites us is Christ, not other party loyalties. I know Christians who will vote for McCain and Christians who will vote for Obama. It's not my job to tell either side they're voting for the antichrist just like this or that specious piece of spam may assert.

We can find it easy to air the flaws we find in others without airing our own, or at best we may air our own flaws in a way that is still essentially self-serving. We can say something like, "I'm not perfect, but you're evil." And then we have still not heeded the warning. We can selectively invoke Prov 25:8-10 to rebuke the other person while defending ourselves. We can choose to reveal another's secret while rebuking them for revealing our own. We can accuse people of doing that wrong which we ourselves have done as though God is on our side but not theirs when God may be calling us all to repent. This is the sort of thing that damages our own character while damaging others.

It is possible that lives, ministries, and churches have been destroyed because Christians failed to contemplate the gravity of this warning we receive from the Spirit for ourselves and not just whomever it is we have our dispute with. And beyond all that it may well be that rather than consider how the Spirit may be speaking to us to convict us about our own sin we may decide to keep looking at the sins of others and blog about it or speak about it in some public setting like a pulpit or a newsletter or a discernment ministry. We may rush to address a conflict that is real or imaginary in our blog and confront someone we believe to be in huge sin or to have some huge character defect of doctrinal error and discover that we are pushing ourselves and our agenda, not Christ. But we persuade ourselves that Christ alone is our agenda and so deceive ourselves. And we can rush to speak of things that don't need to be on the blogosphere or aired from a pulpit or disseminated in a newsletter.

While I could attempt to find application for this I won't for obvious reasons. It is in no one's best interest f0r me to explicate particular instances in which I am concerned that this passage of Proverbs has been ignored except to say that I have realized over time that I have not been very good at considering it in my own email correspondence over the years and the parties hurt by my foolishness already know who they are. And by the Lord's grace and the patience of brothers and sisters in Christ we've worked that stuff out and I admitted my sin and have been working at being more considerate of my family in Christ.

Let us, as Christians who blog, consider the seriousness of the warning of Proverbs 25:8-10. It has been on my mind of late and it's something i obviously feel I need to blog about. There coulld be a lot less bitterness and unresolved conflict and broken relationships if we kept these verses in mind not only for blogs but in all relationships. How many lives and churches have been broken because members, deacons, and pastors have not considered the wisdom of not being rash in rushing to confrontation and taking action?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Marriage in eschatological context

No one will be married in the age to come. Husbands and wives will not be one flesh in the new age when Christ comes to rule and reign in the new heaven and earth forever. My sister and brother-in-law will not be married forever. They will both die. Should I be married, strange and unlikely as that is for me to imagine now, my wife and I will not be married forever. It is not for nothing the vows so often say "til death". Paul famously wrote that death ends the marriage. And it most assuredly does, otherwise Paul's argument in Romans regarding our freedom from sin has no force.

But this is not how many Christians begin to broach the subject of marriage. Marriage is most assuredly sacred but I do not see people too often making the argument that marriage is sacred by virtue of its transience. It only is meant to last a lifetime, whereas the marriage of Christ and His people is truly forever. We might risk diminishing the power of the promise of Christ's promise to His people if we claim our own marriages that are in flesh that will die have the same eternality inherent within its bonds. We might risk making a mockery of Christ to suppose that our earthly marriages can ever be what His marriage to His bride will be, forever. No, our marriages all end in death. Only Christ's marriage will never end and bring with it eternal life.

Marriage is beautiful and sacred but it is for this age. This does not diminish its beauty but it does mean that we should be careful to consider the limits of its relevance. Sometimes it seems as though evangelicals have so prized marriage they have gone off the rails and acted as though it is not a sacrament for this age. Heh, let's consider for a moment how few Protestants seem eager to even describe marriage as a sacrament, despite employing all the concepts that would imply a sacramentalview. But I don't feel like getting into that. As you can see, I've blogged a plenty already today. If I were married I probably wouldn't necessarily have the time to blog even as much as I do, or would find that blogging is not a particularly fascinating endeavor. Who knows?

The arts, a little rumination after reading bits of N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope

Let me be clear that I have read quite a bit more than a few bits of the book. :)

But the few pages devoted to beauty are what have inspired me to blog lately. Wright correctly says that he can do no more than touch upon any number of subjects. But his observation that Christian art needs to be informed at multiple levels by a robust and health theology is worth noting.

We must consider that the world as it is is broken by the effects of sin, yet we must also recognize that the world as it is is beautiful and reflects the love and kindness as well as the severity of God and the crushing effects of sin. Yet we are also called to create art which considers that Christ who made all things will one day make all things NEW. We have the oligation both to recognize the beauty in the cosmos as it is even with the corrupting effects and influence of sin and to also recognizze that this beauty points to a parallel beauty, when Christ creates and renews all that now is broken.

And the beauty of this world is so startling it can lead us to ask what manner of beauty Christ is preparing for us when the beauty of creation He intends to usher in Himself one day, and what that beauty may be, what it may look like. What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard. If this world is suffused with beauty that inspired the psalmist to write "The heavens declare the glory of God" what will we see when the God of glory reveals Himself to us and creates a new heaven and earth in which He will live with us?

A long time ago someone commented on a blog entry I wrote in which I noted that Protestants rarelys eem to create great artists anymore, or rather Protestantism has come a long way down from Johann Sebastian Bach, Rembrandt, Milton, and the like (not that I like Milton one bit, mind you, but I'm just saying ... .) It was suggested to me that the Catholic and Orthodox traditions have tradition and that that somehow explained things. I don't think that could possibly be more misleading an argument.

A more compelling argument is that the Catholic and Orthodox traditions have yielded artists whose work is actually important to people in the world because their theology of creation and the anticipation of new creation is healtheir and more integrated. I would also argue that at one point Protestantism in the West had a healthier understanding of how these two eschatological and soteriological elements of the present age and age to come were more integrated and integral to the arts.

What is most intriguing is that if you consider the religious background of several of the champions of avant garde classical music or musical modernism (whichever phrase suits you) was Catholic or Orthodox. Consider that Stravinsky returned to the Orthodox church later in life. Webern was Catholic. Messiaen was Catholic, Penderecki IS Catholic. Even among less adventurous composers we have cases of Durfule and Poulenc who were (surprise) at least nominally from a Catholic background (Poulenc quite a bit less nominal than Durufle so far as I can tell). Messiaen's whole Quartet for the End of Time was a meditation on the Apocalypse and the eminent return of Christ and it's one of the most startling examples of the musical avant garde the West has seen. And, in case I haven't given any indication earlier, I adore this piece of music! In our own time Arvo Part is most certainly Orthodox and is one of the more popular composers of our day.

Interestingly, if we were to stake out the minimalists three of the four big names who are still active have unique religious backgrounds. Glass (though I admit I hate his music) is Buddhist, Reich is Jewish (secular in many ways perhaps, but he still composed Tehillim and went to the trouble of doing it in Hebrew), Part is Orthodox. Adams is quite busy and perhaps (I don't know) he represents a more secularist or Protestant variation of minimalism, which suggests in any event that minimalism seems to have a truly ecumenical set of adherents! I suppose there's a reason why more conservative Protestants with a lack of interest in the arts can complain! But the Jewish and Orthodox composers of this troupe are most definitely a lot of fun. Go check them out.

Getting back to my earlier observation, it doesn't seem that tradition alone means much of anything. A lot of Catholic music in the last century is just plain awful even though some of it is sublime. It would be more accurate, I think, to get back to the idea that what the Orthodox and Catholic traditions have preserved more faithfully is a balance between a theology of creation and a theology of eschatology that recognize the value in this age and the strength of the promise of the age to come.

Where modern would-be ever-reforming Protestantism blunders too much (except in Wright's book, and in a lot of Francis Schaeffer) is acknowledging that the dawning of a new age in which Christ reigns does not invalidate the age we live in now, does not indicate that there is no beauty in even our own age. This is one of the dangers of nostalgia in the arts or anywhere. It is not for nothing the Preacher says to not ask where the good old days are, those days we suppose were better than these, because it isn't from wisdom that we ask this. No, it's from our own foolishness that we whitewash a sin-riddled past as though it were a lost golden age. It's not for nothing Sherman Alexie is so skeptical of nostalgia. As a Spokane Indian Catholic he can say he has Solomon on his side (unless he doesn't think Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes but surely he'll recognize that the rhetorical effect is heightened if we just suppose Solomon wrote it).

In terms of the promise of the age to come to say such a thing about the past is to at some level forsake that in Christ the hope we have is for a renewed creation and that the creation we live in is worth living in and dying in. We shouldn't be so eager to suppose that we should pine for a world that was somehow more worth dying for when the martyrs of the past were willing to die as part of announcing the kingdom of Christ in this world, for this world, and for the age to come. If we pine for the past that was somehow better than this time we live in now we make a mockery of the beautiful world Christ has given us to live in NOW. We spit in His face and tell Him that this earth He has given us is not good enough for us. And He recognizes that it is not good enough for us, but how rarely we trust in His promise to make all things new and to recognize that though that promise is not fulfilled right now, it WILL be, and in Christ we have the opportunity to live in such a way as to express hope that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well through Christ, and through Christ alone.

So at this point Protestant art is not in trouble but it lacks a theology of incarnation to understand this or that way of reaching the people (or NOT reaching the people). We have a problem because we often fail to understand creation itself. There is a sense in which every work of art is a form of teleological argument for a Christian, a point that virtually no Christians seem to discuss (or, unfortunately, no Christians I've ever met seem to talk about). Okay, except maybe N. T. Wright and I met him very briefly a few years ago so I guess I have to take a lot of that all back. Bishop Wright, if at any point in the future you're reading this I have you to thank for commending Richard Bauckham's work to me and I'm very grateful! I read his work on Jude a few summers ago and loved it. :)

So I have met a Christian who is Protestant who is thinking a lot about these things and how a balanced theological understanding of creation and new creation can and should inform the arts. My question is, how is it that an Anglican bishop gets it but so many Protestant artists don't even think about these things? It was Luther who is so notoriously known for having said that music is the handmaiden of theology. Even within Bach's time (the mid 1700s) the twin impulses of pietism and rationalism were already separating what had previously been united.

But despite laments about this or that effect of the Enlightenment that was bad or this or that part of the Reformation that was lost or whatever people keep crowing about in every generation there have been (and will remain) artists whom the Lord gives an opportunity to grasp firmly both the one while not letting go of the other and avoiding the extremes that so many artists and theologians not only embrace themselves but demand that we embrace either to become great artists or great theologians, which so frequently means simply imitating THEM.

Christ extends His offer to join Him in His kingdom to you, and to everyone whom the Father draws to Him. You are called to join the people of God and to be with God's people, to be with Christ, yet this may not mean you will be joining exactly the thing or people or place you may suspect. Christ let His kingdom be divided before His coming, He may perfectly well permit division in His kingdom prior to His return. If this allows us to fix our hope in Him and not in ourselves as His body or bride, so much the better.

So after quite a bit of consideration about the idea that somehow the Catholics and Orthodox have tradition and that has allowed them to have better art, meh. I think that is giving credit to the wrong thing. I think the Catholics and Orthodox themselves would probably argue (with some credibility) that the more balanced theological understanding about the paradoxes and tensions of eschatology and creation have been kept more faithfully within their traditions than in Protestantism and that this, and not tradition in and of itself, is a better indicator of why Orthodoxy and Catholicism have produced Stravinsky, Part, Webern, Messiaen, and Penderecki. Even the late Hindemith (another personal favorite of mine) eventually converted to the Catholic faith (possibly pro forma but possibly because of his wife, I'm not an expert there by any means).

But the thing is the apex of Western music is universally agreed to be Bach, who was as utterly Lutheran and Protestant as anyone. But this did not stop him from composing a full scale Mass the likes of which Catholics probably still wish came from a Catholic. As Mark Noll noted in his short but dense book about the Civil War, Catholicism was not seen as a viable intellectual or spiritual heritage from which to draw in discussing the issues of slavery and political freedoms. In Bach's time, however, it may have been that a man like Bach was thoroughly Protestant, but not so thoroughly that he saw no benefit in drawing on generations before him. If this is true (I won't presume it is with Bach specifically, though I suggest it for the sake of argument) then it means that the reason so few artists emerge in each generation whose work seems to last is because every generation struggles to grasp the scope of history and its direction, most particularly how Christ sets a path for us to follow toward Him. We are all invited to take it and many of us do, but not all of us consider what strange and daunting places it may lead us within, say,, the arts.

Christ will reconcile all things to Himself, including the arts that we despite or deny. I have little use for pop music now not because it has no value or isn't music but because I'm moving in a particular direction as a composer. If we obsess with staying current with the present we grasp at the wind, the ephemeral moment that evaporates as soon as our fingers have clasped it. If we turn back to the past we make the same mistake, pulling to ourselves the mist that is melted by the heat of our fingertips. God does not call us to this! Christ does not call us to this. He calls us to Himself. In embracing Him we receive the cosmos in its brokenness but also the redemption He promises to it and us, which He purchased through His death, the redemption of which is given the sign of His rising from death. As Adam chose to be our pioneer in death for this age so Jesus chose to be the pioneer of life for us and the universe in the age to come. And He invites us now to join Him in announcing that a new kingdom is coming.

This announcement, that Wright spends quite a bit of time on, is properly described as being about Christ. The invitation to join and announce the kingdom of Christ is not something we accept the invitation to because it will make us look better, feel better, be happier, or even necessarily to be better people. All of those things are possible in Christ who will make all things new but we should not use this as an evangelistic gimmick. We should not say that I was a drunk and a loser and single and then I met Jesus and I became sober, a winner, and married with two kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. That is not the gospel.

In the same way, the arts are not the gospel but the arts can be reflected upon and worked within by Christians. And this means that since in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, we do not have to abandon any of these distinctions or suppose they don't exist but to recognize that all are valuable and made valuable in Christ by His redemptive act on their behalf. We do not know how Christ will reconcile all things to Himself but that is the promise we have in Him. Too many Christian artists seem eager to preserve that which they fear will die on the one hand, or to embrace whatever it is they think they must embrace to be "relevant" or "new" on the other. Neither of these is necessary. Christ Himself embraces all these broken things on the Cross. If we would embrace Christ He will give us Himself, and in Him these things which we see as broken or disparate will one day and are even now appear in a unity which we can only dimly perceive.

If Protestant art and music so often sucks it is because of a failure to grasp this. We are busy pining for a past that is lost or embracing a present that will fade or presuming there is either no future or that we will bring it about. It is another thing entirely to work in the hope that the future truly belongs to Christ and that while we can do nothing in ourselves to bring it about we can work in the hope of Christ and trust that in Christ our labor is not in vain. As I wrote elsewhere on this blog, Jesus praised the widow giving her penny even though it was to a temple system against which He prophesied, a temple system that was destroyed after His death and resurrection. We could say that that widow gave her last penny for a system so corrupt Jesus Himself tore it down providentially through Roman soldiers. But Jesus praised that woman's faith and willingness to give to the kingdom of God. The work we do does not matter in this age in the sense that it will outlive us. The temple to which that woman gave is now a memory that must be sought. But her gift lasts because it is preserved in the heart of Christ and through the testimony of Scripture.

This is why I continue to compose without much discouragement. No one has to know what music I write. I would PREFER to have my music known and loved and widely played, of course! But music is a gift from Christ so even if people do not hear my music in some commercially viable way I am still able to both be blessed and to bless by means of composing music and listening to music. If the Lord wills (and I don't suck and I keep working at things) perhaps people will get to hear my music in this or that setting.

Our hope is in Christ and Christ offers us the hope that in Him we will not have died (or lived) in vain, even if in the eyes of the world and everyone we know that is precisely what we seem to have done. After all, Christ knows what it feels like to seem to have lived and died and vain. He went beyond that death to rise from death and conquer it for our sake. And it is for the joy set before Him that He did this, a joy which includes inviting us to share in that joy. That is why I am able to compose music even if no one hears it and even if it may be published one day only to be forgotten the next. Wealthy men gave much out of their wealth to the temple treasury. A widow gave her only penny.

The one who watches whose eyes we must consider is Jesus. If we give a penny that no one else sees and Jesus sees it, we have given all that we need to give. No more is needed. If we give for others or for ourselves we receive our reward, just as Christ promised us . If we give for Him, even it is unknown, unconsidered, and goes to a temple that Christ Himself destroys through providence that penny is nevertheless remembered by Christ Himself. This is, so far as I understand it, the reason a Christian artist creates art. There is quite a bit more to it than this, obviously, but that is for some other blog entry. There has been enough bloviation on this topic from me for tonight.