“The Psalms are admirably adapted to the public prayer of the Church, for their authors, even in individual supplications, always intervene as members of the community of the Covenant. Their frequent passage from “I” to “We” is in no way disconcerting to men of our time who posses a feeling for the communal aspect of salvation. Besides, canonical prayer does not suppress personal prayer; rather canonical prayer does not suppress personal prayer; rather, canonical prayer instructs, directs, stimulates, and protects it against wandering without a guide.”
(The Songs of the People of God by Charles Hauret, p. 55)
I’ve been sitting on a review for Collision for some time. I already wrote it up right after I watched the film some time ago, but never got around to posting it. So here, right in the middle of “exam fever”, I decided to go ahead and post it. I don’t want to post this after it’s been out for a whole year!
The film’s excellent–but not for the faint of heart!
Some debates are destined to be boring. Others are bound to evade the important issues. Still others are snoody and convoluted–you know when a Christian meets a snoody intellectual atheist who thinks he isn’t a fundamentalist. Rest assured, when Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson meet in a debate, we are sure to have a different sort of debate. And it will likely lean on the vigorous side. I guess one could say it’s the sort of debate Richard Dawkins couldn’t have if he was paid a billion dollars for it. He just doesn’t have the oomph for it.
Here we have a great showdown, two contrarian fellows who even sometimes upset their own team find themselves subjected to a prolonged dialouge with a truly worthy opponent spread over various venues. They may share the same planet, but their thought is so starkly different that at times they appear to reside in different worlds. And in a way they do. This is not really just a collision of ideas, more like a collision of lives–you really see it in the film.
You get the sense that Wilson and Hitchens, beyond their arguments, have this sort of thing for each other, a sort of friendship. There’s a certain hint of mutual respect. There’s a certain hint incredulity. Hitchens appreciates finally finding a Christian who believes what he is defending and is willing to take it to its logical conclusions. Wilson appears to delight in having finally found a relevant “new atheist”. And they have some fun with it, there’s a Wodehouse “jam session” of sorts where they are flinging quotes, and it is a riot.
Now, don’t approach this film expecting a linear debate. It is moreso a collection of scattered cross-sections and various exerpts from the debates set in a variety of locations (ranging from Westminster Seminary on one hand and a few pubs on another hand). It is very unlinear, to the point of becoming unsettling. But it has a certain charm and is produced fairly well! At points the video makes them seem like rap stars or gangsters, but this sort of adds to the mystique. I hope that this video drives some people to actually seek out some of the full debates and watch them or listen to them, since their linear nature will probably lead to a fuller understanding.
The interchange is great. Wilson makes a good stand as a bold Van Tilian Biblical absolutist. Hitchens also plays his normal role. Both are witty and both really put themselves into this thing. I think Wilson makes a great, rugged case for the Christian worldview and the impossibility/absurdity of the contrary and he takes a lot of courage in subjecting himself to a thorough “Hitchens treatment”.
(And just as a bit of warning for those who would like to know, there is some coarse language, not gratuitous, but it is there)
Just a few scattered things:
- It’s official, according to The Guardian, my country is the “dirty old man” of the climate world. I think a prototypical Canadian response would roughly translate to: Really, eh?
- Tim Challies has some interest comments on how to listen to sermons
- R.C. Sproul and Michael Horton have also gone on record refusing to sign the Manhattan Declaration
“It often happens with ‘egalitarians’ that a hole, a special escape hatch from the drab uniformity of life, is created — for themselves.”
– Murray Rothbard in Messianic Communism in the Protestant Reformation (an exerpt from Economic Thought Before Adam Smith)
“To be sure, a special circumstance influenced the Church in incoporating the Psalter into her official prayer. Certain heterodox influences, especially Gnostic ones, were inflitrating the faithful; and these innovators gladly used songs to inject their poison. Marcion spread a Psalter of his own composition. And Barsdesanes, a heretic of the second century, published a tendentious edition of the 150 Psalms which was spread far and wide through the Syriac church. The Manicheans and Arius successfully used the same tactics. Thus, in the first centuries, heterodoxy was spread in song.
The Church set up a dike, the Psalter of Israel, against invasion. At such a juncture, the deliberate choice of Hebrew prayer was pointedly a reaction. It is, therefore, an error to interpret the permanance of the Psalter in our liturgy as a sign of conservatism and of routine, the simple survival of an ancestral practice.
This faraway history enlightens us to the constant tradition of the Church, and in particular, to its tenacious resistance to counsel, however urgent, that the well-intention faithful have never ceased to lavish on her. From time to time, her children have indeed pressed their mother to retire the Psalter as a collection of outmoded and non-Christian, and to fashion a younger collection of spiritual songs, better adapted to the spirit of the Gospel and more in harmony with the aspirations of today. But Mater Ecclesia, without excluding eventual accommodations, persists in drawing from the ‘waters of Siloe that flow gently’: she refuses to slake her thirst at the ‘river’ which unloosens ruin (Is. 8:6 ff). She mistrusts oversimplified and hazardous solutions.”
(The Songs of the People of God by Charles Hauret, p. 23-24)