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Preview: Musings from the Cornered Hill

Musings from the Cornered Hill

I do all kinds of eclectic blogging on this blog. The name derives from my last name, Gordon, which means "from the cornered hill".

Updated: 2014-03-18T22:07:17.518-07:00


Quote 22 - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


Prayer is not ritualized language composed ceremonially for an audience with heavenly royalty. Our relation with God is as unpredictable, unplannable, and unrehearsed as life with our neighbors.

from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

I also think I take a bit of issue with this quotation, though only because it sounds so absolute. I think there is a place for ritualized prayer, possibly in some of the most "unpredictable, unplannable, and unrehearsed" times of our lives, when we don't know what to pray and ritual gives us a place to start.

Quote 21 - Generous Justice


Ok, I'm back (or so I say). Sticking with 2 quotes a day at least until I seem like I'm catching up with myself (when I started this I copied 11 pages of quotes from my Kindle...I haven't grabbed any more and I'm still pretty far from the end of those, and I've gotten plenty more since then). Enjoy.

God directs that each person should bring what they can, and if their heart is right, that will give them access to his grace.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

To me this is perhaps one of the most controversial things he has said thus far, but I think that's just because I've gotten too used to reformed people who are all about sovereignty and not about choice. Any thoughts?

Quote 20 - Generous Justice


The three causes of poverty, according to the Bible, are oppression, calamity, and personal moral failure.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 19 - Generous Justice


Any large-scale improvement in a society’s level of poverty will come through a comprehensive array of public and private, spiritual, personal, and corporate measures.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 18 - Generous Justice


Both sides looking for support in the Bible can find some, and yet in the end what the Bible says about social justice cannot be tied to any one political system or economic policy.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 17 - Generous Justice


Though some are more able “gatherers”—that is, some are better at making money than others—the money you earn is a gift of God. Therefore, the money you make must be shared to build up community.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 16 - Generous Justice


Forgot to post yesterday and almost forgot today. One for today, then I'll go back to two for a couple more days.

Why was it that landowners were not allowed to harvest out to the margins of their field? God did not want them to squeeze every cent of profit out of their land, and then think that by giving to charity they were doing all they could for general community welfare. The gleaning laws enabled the poor to be self-sufficient, not through getting a handout, but through their own work in the field.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 15 - Generous Justice


Israel was a nation-state in which every citizen was bound to obey the whole law of God and also was required to give God wholehearted worship. This is not the situation in our society today.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Another quote pointing to proper interpretation of the OT context. I'm glad that Keller isn't a Christendom thinker.

Quote 14 - Generous Justice


We should be wary of simply saying, “These things don’t apply anymore,” because the Mosaic laws of social justice are grounded in God’s character, and that never changes.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

This is one of the better interpretive tools I've seen for old testament law in our new testament context. I've heard it from other people, but this is clear, concise and to the point.

Quote 13 - A Clash of Kings


hard places breed hard men, and hard men rule the world.

from A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Agree? Disagree?

Quote 12 - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


Last week I got sick, which got me out of the habit of posting quotes. To make up for it, I'll do two quotes a day for a couple days. This one is another that gives you a glimpse into how beautifully well written Eugene Peterson's books are:

we learn prayer in response to what is being said to us, over and over, by the Holy Spirit in Scripture and song, in story and sermon, in heart-whispers and bold witness.

from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

Quote 11 - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


For those of us who are interested in living the truth and not just acquiring information, it is necessary to discover the meaning of a word by looking it up in the Story, not the dictionary.

from Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

I really just love the way that Peterson summons up poetry in your heart and mind through his words. I'm not sure it comes across well in short little quotes like this, but in the context, amazing.

Quote 10 - A Clash of Kings


Today's quote is from A Clash of Kings, the second book in the same series as A Game of Thrones.

Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.

from A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Pretty simple quote, and while not always true it does have some truth behind it. Men give over their own power when they think that others have power over them. This is especially true in monarchies and the such, but even today you can see some of that in politics.

Quote 9 - Generous Justice


In the Scripture, gifts to the poor are called “acts of righteousness,” as in Matthew 6:1-2. Not giving generously, then, is not stinginess, but unrighteousness, a violation of God’s law.

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

This is one of the stronger statements I've seen from Keller in my reading of this book thus far. Definitely cause for some heart searching.

Quote 8 - Generous Justice


Bible scholar Alec Motyer defines “righteous” as those “right with God and therefore committed to putting right all other relationships in life.”

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

This comment struck me very similarly to how I have heard the word Shalom discussed in sermons and classes in the past. And it's a very cool picture to have, someone right with God trying to put other relationships to right. Mmm.

Quote 7 - Generous Justice


Another quote from Generous Justice on the topic of social justice and the God of Israel.

“But here, in Israel’s rival vision,” it is not high-ranking males but “the orphan, the widow, and the stranger” with whom Yahweh takes his stand. His power is exercised in history for their empowerment.”

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Keller is juxtaposing Israel with the many nations that surrounded them and the gods that they served. Obviously this difference should also be important to those of us who serve this same God, and we should continue to examine ourselves and the world around us for what appropriate empowerment means (since it can also be appropriated in wrong ways).

Quote 6 - Generous Justice


The Kindle doesn't organize highlighted quotes by book, so these quotes will likely bounce around a bit. The next couple will come from Timothy Keller's book, Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just. I think you'll get some of where he is going from the quotes. The first few chapters (as far as I have read thus far) have provided much food for thought. Today's is short and to the point:

God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to “do justice.”

from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

Quote 5 - A Game of Thrones


One more quote from Game of Thrones, again not needing much explanation.

“A craven can be as brave as any man, when there is nothing to fear. And we all do our duty, when there is no cost to it. How easy it seems then, to walk the path of honor. Yet soon or late in every man’s life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose.”

from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Quote 4 - A Game of Thrones


Another quote from Game of Thrones. This one won't need any commentary from me (feel free to comment, though, I'd love to hear what others think).

Most of us are not so strong. What is honor compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.

from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Quote 3 - A Game of Thrones


Another quote from the fantasy book I quoted yesterday. And as a side note, I'm not listing page numbers because at this point the Kindle doesn't list them (although they recently updated it so that it should, but I haven't seen that yet).

“Just so. Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. Then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.”

from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The context of this quote is a sword master teaching a little girl how to fight, but he gives her many principles that have more to do with all of life. When I went back and saw this quote at first I felt like it was hostile to Christianity, very materialistic. But then I got to thinking about it and realized that the head and heart are just as likely to tell us that miracles aren't happening or that all we are seeing is something natural that this idea can be a good one. If God created our senses, and the world around us, then tapping into those senses should bring us back to Him just as easily as our heart or head.

Quote 2 - A Game of Thrones


Today's quote comes from a fiction book which I began reading because my guild on WoW takes its name from a little mentioned person in this book. But as epic fantasy it tends to make interesting comments on people and society from time to time. Here's one.

“Let me give you some counsel, bastard,” Lannister said. “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

The setting of the book is similar to our world in medieval times, so being a bastard was a distinctly bad thing. This advice struck me because as Christians we have made a weakness (the death of our Messiah) our strength. The cross is our most universal symbol, not something like the rolled away stone. And in a sense the many 'victims' in our society are making their weakness a strength (though it is also a prison, a bit like medieval armor could be). Something to think on.

Quote 1 - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


It's been a long time since I last blogged. I'm given to long winded posts talking about what I'm going to do followed by my not doing it, so I'm going to give a small intro and then just get into actually doing it with this post. I have a Kindle. I can underline (highlight in their terminology) things in books as I read and those quotations are collected in one file called "My Clippings". So I have a collection of quotations that interest me in some way or another, and I thought I would start sharing those here, either with or without comment from me. And I welcome quotes or feedback from any readers I may still have. I'll stop myself before becoming too long winded, and I'll wait to really introduce this book until the next time I quote it. Without further ado:

People can think correctly and behave rightly and worship politely and still live badly - live anemically, live individualistically self-enclosed lives, lived bored and insipid and trivial lives.

From Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson

Pretty sure this quote speaks for itself. It's one to think on.

Psychological Education


So, I've finally restarted studying to take the Psychology sub-test of the GRE. As a result, I'm reading very broad overviews of psychological theories. I learn better when I understand more, and explaining and thinking about things helps in that process. As a result, I'm going to make all of you, my still faithful readers (if you still exist) read a bunch of posts about psychology, and I'll probably think about integration at the same time. Maybe you'll learn something, who knows. I should get the first post up sometime soon.

Health Care and Economics: Part 1.2


I've been sitting on this post for a while because I just can't think of all that much to put into it. That of course means I'm missing a bunch of stuff. But I'm finally at the point where I'm willing to just write it and then get taken to task by comments and then maybe write a third post along this line just to address problems I'm not even thinking of. So, in this post I'm going to talk about efficiency, death, and maybe get into the issue of regulation a bit (it's out of my depth, but I see it's importance). Ok, so where were we? Joe Doctor (the evil money loving doctor) has come up with a way to cure AIDS, bilked people for money, and then started training a bunch of other doctors to keep making loads of cash (and as a result has pushed down the price of the procedure and increased the supply of surgeons). But the price is still at 100 grand, well out of normal people's budgets. Let's say that at this point in pricing the incentives to go into this field no longer have a great enough return, so people stop training for it. This of course causes problems for Joe Doctor, who can no longer make boat loads of cash training new doctors, so he finally decides to throw in the towel and retires. Then along comes Tom Innovator who is going to completely upend the system. He introduces greater efficiency into the system. He comes up with a surgery that gets the same results but only takes 2 hours to do. Now, as you can imagine, he doesn't have to charge as much to make the same amount of money. So he charges 80 thousand dollars a surgery and still makes more than the doctors who are charging 100 thousand (because he can do twice as many surgeries a week as they can). He takes some business from the others and makes them somewhat angry, but he can't take everyone so most of them still make some money. The smarter ones come to him and ask to learn his new method, and being the smart man that he is he trains them on it. He knows that this will drive down costs more, but Tom is a good man. Seeing more people cured is his reward (oh, yeah, and the boat loads of cash he charges to train the doctors). So, demand is up again and the returns are good, so more individuals become interested in this form of surgery again. More doctors get trained, more supply, the price goes down. More than likely the price would bottom out at 50 thousand, half the cost before bringing the same return since each surgery takes half the time. Now the old school doctors are feeling the pressure. There are plenty of doctors around that are charging half what they charge and doing twice as many surgeries, and why would people pay more for the same result? But then a windfall for the old school doctors, one of Tom's trainees has a patient die during the surgery. That first death is a big deal, but surgery is dangerous and the occasional death is to be expected (or so the new doctors tell their patients). But then there are three more deaths from three different doctors, all trained by Tom. Percentage wise this is not many (remember that there are twice as many surgeries as before, so 4 deaths probably wouldn't even be 1 percentage point) but it is clear that the new surgery is more dangerous. Suddenly people with the money are more willing to pay for the longer, more costly surgery because it takes the risk out of the equation. People who can't afford 100 thousand but can afford 50 thousand continue to go to th[...]

Health Care and Economics: Part 1.1


Introduction to this SeriesOk, it's time for me to actually start making my case for free markets in the health care space. Primarily I'll be presenting a very simple case study of how free markets drive down prices. I'm going to try and keep myself from going too far afield, but even if I'm successful this could conceivably be a long post. You have been warned.When I say simple I mean simple. I will be ignoring both insurance and “credit” in this example. The people who are paying here must have the cash up front in order to get the service offered. I understand this sidesteps large criticisms of the model, and once again I beg your indulgence for a man out of his depth.For our example, we are going to use something big that a lot of people would want. Let's say a surgery that cures AIDS (I'm going for something that doesn't already exist). So, Joe Doctor comes along and invents this surgery which takes him 4 hours to perform and leaves a person cured of AIDS. And since he is in a free market, he can sit in his office cackling evilly while he sets whatever price he wants.At first he sets his price at 1 million dollars. Not a bad sum of money to make for a mere 4 hours of work. He convinces some guy with an ungodly amount of money (and the virus) to get the surgery and it works. That guy tells a couple of his friends who also have ungodly amounts of money and the virus and 3 of them decide to get the surgery, which Joe schedules once per week. So in a month he has made 4 million dollars for a mere 16 hours of work. Truly diabolical.But now Joe has a problem. No one else has the money and the virus, so either he retires on 4 million dollars (possible, but he is accustomed to a better life now) or he lowers his price somewhat. Now he will do the surgery for 500 thousand, and he schedules two surgeries a week. Same amount of money, but he has an 8 hour work week instead of 4. He can live with that.Ah, but Joe's posh lifestyle has caught Bob's eye. Bob comes from old money, so he has some cash to throw around, but he wants to make more. Joe makes more money than anyone else Bob knows, so he offers Joe 5 million dollars to let him watch the surgery and learn how to do it. Joe loves money, so he takes Bob up on the offer and Bob learns how to do the surgery.Bob has a problem, though. Joe is a well known name now, and there aren't so many people willing to drop half a million on the surgery that he can easily get clients. So what does Bob do? He undercuts Joe, offering the surgery for 400 grand and doing it 3 times a week (so actually he is getting more per week, but also working harder to get it). Business starts out slow, but quickly people realize that Bob is just as good, and why would you pay more for the same result?Now Joe is incensed. He didn't think through the consequences of teaching someone else, and his love of money has led to a loss of business. Joe swallows his pride and lowers his price to 400 grand as well. There is a larger pool of people willing to pay that much so Bob and Joe can coexist at this price point, but you forget Joe's evil cackling earlier. He wants to get even with Bob for making him work harder. But how to do that?Joe decides irony is the best revenge, so he will get back at Bob by teaching more men and thus driving down the price even more. He will make his money from the teaching, not from the surgeries, so his sou[...]