In Which We Wonder: Why the Real Presence?

Trans-substantiation seems to be one of those Roman oddities (well, odd now, anyway) that is perfectly calculated to get the panties of literal-minded Protestants all twisty-like. So naturally, as such, I like it (though it doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, no pun intended). I’ve never liked the “mere memorial” approach to the Supper either, and always accepted the “mystery” of the “real presence” of Christ in the bread and wine without His being there in substance as a given.

But, reading through the Gospels, I don’t see any reason for anything other than a metaphorical understanding of Christ’s words: “This is my body, broken for you…This is my blood of the new covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins”. In this instance, the statement is clearly metaphorical: Why should it be anything else? The significance of the bread and wine (which is enormous, certainly) is fulfillment of the Passover meal and an establishment of this new covenant; it is metaphoric and symbolic. Is there any Scriptural necessity for this being non-metaphorical, as against the obvious and normal use of language? Why the necessity for some sort of real presence at all? Am I missing something obvious?

Are not metaphors, signs, and memorials powerful and efficacious in themselves? Does claiming that Joshua’s stone did or didn’t have ears in any way weaken or strengthen the power of that symbol to convict and condemn a backsliding Israel? Is it even a relevant point of discussion?


In Which We Wonder…

Could a case for the use of icons in Christian life and worship be made from Joshua 24:25 – 27?

On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Summer Top 5, Part I

The school year is in full swing (yea, it compasses me about like the bulls of whatsit). We’ve had a busy summer. Here were the entertainment highlights (well, five of them anyway), in no particular order.

1. I and my family were in a commercial for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (apparently because we look pathetic like a down-and-out military family). In any event, they had cast a marine to play himself, but he wasn’t able to make it, so I had the honor of donning dress blues as well (my apologies to any servicemen who noticed the discrepancies in my uniform: The costume lady had a giant polka-dot scarf tied around her head, if that explains anything). Unsolicited praises from the director and crew for my wife’s professionalism and Ophelia’s general cuteness (for which I am willing to take full responsibility).

2. The big concert for the summer was Rage Against the Machine at the Rock the Bells festival in New York. After much debate and a straw poll, we determined that “Rock the Bells” must be some kind of semi-political, quasi-sexual ghetto-slang, the meaning of which was unknown (as far as I could tell) to virtually all of the attendees. This put a bit of a damper on the proceedings, as we left still ignorant of what the “Bells” were, and whether we had rocked them sufficiently.
Speaking of dampers, we arrived in Harlem that afternoon in the midst of a steady downpour: Not torrential, but heavy and faithful, like Aesop’s tortoise. We were three soaked, pasty scarecrows before we even got on the bus (which was air-conditioned, of course). By the time we reached the island where the festival was being held it had turned into a Woodstock-worthy mud pit crisscrossed by concrete overpasses, chain-link fencing, and banks of porta-potties (all of which were perpetually in use).
Despite the weather, the show was a substantial net gain. Several unknowns occupied our attention for the first hour or two (including someone who did a hideous rap over a sample of the ubiquitous programmed beat of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”), until the main stage developed a serious case of nostalgia, and we joined the faithful legions in the pit.
On the bill of note were Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and the Wu-Tang Clan (who have a surprisingly militant following of 35 year-old white guys). I got close enough to touch Flavor-Flav and didn’t (its been a while since I was immunized), and was extremely impressed with the free-styling MC who kept things going between the Public Enemy and Wu-Tang sets. And of course, Cypress Hill is still the highest group in the universe, making Snoop look like a Nancy Reagan gal-pal.
But all would have been for naught if it weren’t for Rage Against the Machine. I enjoyed the other performers, but there comes a time when canned beats a misanthropic rhymes just don’t cut it anymore (after all, as someone once observed, “How many words can you rhyme with ‘bitch’?”): A guy just wants to rock, and Rage delivered the goods far beyond my expectations. I haven’t been in a mosh-pit in years, but bad back be damned, I had a great time. Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford were supremely tight and fluid, creating the perfect foil for Tom Morello’s I-wish-DJ’s-rocked-like-guitarists flights of fancy. And though I have always despised de la Rocka’s vocals, nothing else would have worked. I do think that Audioslave was, all in all, a far superior band: Still, no one does shrill, pretentious, militant left-wing revolution for suburban teens like Zach. One of the better live shows I have ever seen, and once again it was with Davis Wilson, my comrade in Tool (“Tooool!”).
I also had the good fortune to hit several blues clubs with Davis and his roommate Bjorn the night before the show. I currently wish, all things being equal, that I lived in New York.
Coupled with a Silverchair show the week before (with my lovely and long-suffering wife), and this summer was musically a solid 9 out of 10.

These by way of being the “public event” highlights of the summer. Glorious private acquisitions to be presented next week.