Old Lifey

In my (all about mmmmmeeeeEEE) estimation, the Coen brothers worst movies were Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. I have seen each only once and the thought of re-viewing does not generate the pheromones that their other movies do. (Recently watched Hail, Caesar! and experienced much mirth.) I am not sure what happened on these movies, but I’ve always felt Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers were the kind of productions the Hollywood system would yield if trying to be Coenesque. It’s like Hollywood trying to give that Coen Brothers’ feel (and remember what Hollywood did when it tried to bring to the screen that Barton Fink feeling.)

All of which is to say that when Justin Taylor praises cynicism (granted in the voice of Carl Trueman), you begin to wonder if The Gospel Coalition is trying to produce something not quite so pietistic.

Here’s Trueman:

And that is why church historians play such an important role and our cynicism is such a boon. Church history keeps things in perspective. Through reading the texts and studying the actions and events of the past we can truly say that we have seen it all before. Thus, whatever it is that the latest guru is suggesting, it definitely will not work as well as expected, probably will not work at all, and anyway it will be a hundred years or more before we can say whether it made a real difference or not.

Here’s Taylor:

Of course, cynicism is not the only thing a historian offers to the church, and cynicism by itself can be a vice and not a virtue. Neverthless, Trueman is right. We should listen to those who have a built-in skepticism about the latest hype because they know enough to have a proper perspective.

Seriously? Has anyone at TGC listened to any of the skepticism about the hype of celebrity pastors and the alliances they form?

It’s not history that teaches you to take the Allies of the gospel with a grain of salt, it’s doctrine of the church. Don’t do ministry without one.

8 thoughts on “Old Lifey

  1. Irish historian Seán Duffy’s comment on Mel Gibson’s Bravheart— “The battle of Stirling Bridge could have done with a bridge.”

    DGH—“The question is whether church government is compatible with entrepreneurial pastors.”

    Now I understand why you blog. You don’t have a radio voice.

    Steve the celebrity–“In John 2 we’re told that when Jesus was in Jerusalem, many people were impressed and believed in his name when they saw the miracles he did. Then John says that Jesus “did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). Jesus was a realist. We see this realism again in Mark 3:5, when Jesus was angry at the shallowness and lack of compassion in the religious people, yet he was also “grieved at their hardness of heart.” Jesus understood that people are a lot worse than most people think they are. In fact, he understood this far better than the most hardened cynic. At the same time, though, he grieved. Perhaps one way to define Christian realism is to say that it perceives the dark side…and weeps. But Christian realism also goes beyond weeping; it never loses hope



  2. ok, the Coens phoned in once or twice, but they are not yet as old lifey as Woody Allen.


    When St. Thomas Aquinas was working at his highest pitch, he produced an average of four thousand words every day. . He kept this up for years. Granted, he had help: a team of scribes would take dictation as Aquinas talked his way through several parallel theological arguments. In modern terms, we might say that this arrangement ensured that everyone who held a stake in Aquinas’s productivity—the Dominican order, the University of Paris, and the church at large—got the most value possible out of their unique asset.

    on December 6, 1273, St. Nicholas’s Day, when he was forty-eight or forty-nine years old. Aquinas was celebrating Mass in the chapel of St. Nicholas, and he again had a vision… afterward, he did not resume his dictation as he usually would He stopped writing altogether, leaving his Summa Theologiae—the summary of theology, and his masterwork—incomplete. A few weeks later, Aquinas went to visit his sister. He was wordless and exhausted. He died at a monastery in Fossanova, Italy, on March 7, 1274, just three months after the St. Nicholas Day vision.


  3. Where will the Coalition find authentic cynicism? They’ll have to outsource it and Trueman has probably already burned bridges with them. Maybe you can buy stock cynicism the way TGC already buys stock photos. If only there were cynics in New York City.


  4. Despite the best efforts of Eric Mtetaxis, Greg Thornbury, and Tim Keller, New York City is not Byzantium

    “Sailing to Byzantium”:

    That is no country for old men. The young
    In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
    – Those dying generations – at their song,
    The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
    Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
    Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
    Caught in that sensual music all neglect
    Monuments of unaging intellect



  5. p 243, Damning Words, “A Cynic is in the position of a wedding guest who has known the bride for nine years, and has had her confidence. He is a great deal less happy, theoretically, than the bridegroom …But the cynic looks ahead two weeks, two months, two years. Such are the durable satisfactions of life. ”

    A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.


    When it came to Mencken, Reinhold Niebuhr, who claimed always to stand in the middle above all the other less superior types of religion, became himself a fanatic and sectarian hater.
    “The gleam of fanaticism is in Mr Mencken’s yes while he inveighs the bigotry of the priests and the stupidity of their followers. It is only in dealing with moral and social issues that Mencken achieves the heights of complete detachment, and in this case the detachment is that of a cynic rather than that of a scientist.” (191, Damning Words)


  6. Answering a suggestion that Llewyn Davis would succeed after the events of the film], Oscar Isaac laughed at the very idea. “Llewyn’s stuck on the hamster wheel,” he said cheerfully, adding that maybe he’d wind up giving guitar lessons in Greenwich Village. Nobody laughed in response. Even the suggestion that a fictional character would fail to make it in America is, apparently, deflating. It was a tough crowd for a Coen brothers film.
    Joel and Ethan Coen have always been interested in depicting failure. Llewyn Davistakes is such a steady, unblinking look at continuous humiliating defeat, it’s hard to see how the film can find an audience of any size, at least in the USA. Here, we don’t like to think about failure


    The free offer of the gospel makes it self-evident that Jesus died for everybody, and therefore God loves everybody in some way, and therefore God now has the right to condemn those who fail to accept for themselves what Jesus did for them. Because God gave enough grace to Adam for Adam to say no to sin If Adam had wanted to, and God became incarnate for everybody enough to offer everybody grace (after that) so don’t try to be rational about all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race


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