Monday, February 7, 2011

Random Update #6

1. I spent two weeks learning to read and also reading a multitude of EKGs, which are graphical representations of electric currents in the heart. If you've ever gone to the ER with chest pain, fainting or lightheadedness they should have performed an EKG on you by hooking a few wires up to your chest. It is amazing how much information we can get from this simple, non-invasive technology that's been around since the late 19th Century.
A classic right bundle branch block on EKG.

2. I finished Luther's The Bondage of the Will. It was an excellent book written by a passionate man and it has cemented for me a belief which I already held, that our salvation is all of grace, that is, monergistically given to us by God in Christ.

3. After finishing my EKG course I had two weeks without any class or rotation planned so I worked on a nephrology case report that I'm going to try to publish in a journal along with one of the nephrology fellows at Loma Linda.

4. At the beginning of those two weeks I decided I wanted to try to get through some great work of literature or theology. Three works which initially came to mind were Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch, David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite and St. Augustine's The City of God.

5. Augustine won out. It turns out that I won out too. The City of God is an amazing and excellent work, surpassing whatever expectations I had for it. I thought this book would be a difficult thing to trudge through, instead I have often been captivated by it, not wanting to put it down. Augustine deals masterfully with many questions of theology that I've had for many years, especially dealing with the rebellion of Satan and then our first parents in the Garden. I can see why the Reformers liked Augustine. Every argument he puts forward is very well argued from Scripture and he writes very logically. In his writing you can sense his great intelligence and also his great devotion to God which he would have ascribed only to God's grace in Christ and not to any good work on his part. I had considered reading The Meaning of the Pentateuch to be enlightened on those first five books of the Bible, but it turns out that in The City of God, Augustine provides a profound overview and commentary of the Old Testament. While I know that The Meaning of the Pentateuch is an excellent and probably enlightening book, I can't imagine it gives much more enlightenment on the Old Testament than does The City of God.

6. During my two weeks of freedom I went and saw some local sights I've wanted to check out for a while. I circumnavigated (in my car) the Salton Sea and I spent a day hiking on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. I was very unimpressed by one of these outings while I was amazed by the beauty of the other. I'll make one or two blog posts out of these trips sometime soon.

7. For the past week I've been on an elective called Whole Person Care where we hang out with chaplains, shadow them in their visits with patients and then do our own visits where we attempt to talk about emotional and spiritual issues connected with patient's illnesses and hospitalizations. There is a required paper for the elective so I'm going to research PTSD and interview a VA chaplain about how to help patients with PTSD.


The Underground Pewster said...

Watch out for those two weeks of freedom. That's how I met my spouse.

Matt Perkins said...

Well U.P., no such luck for me. Maybe next time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

I haven't read "The City of God" although I've heard it is excellent. My understanding is that it is a continuation of St. Augustine's earlier work "The Confessions" is this true?

How easy (or difficult) do you find it to reconcile Plato with Christianity?

I hope you are having a good week.


Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,

I read Augustine's confessions about 10 years ago and found it also to be a great work. I'm not sure how much City of God is a continuation of that. At the end of the Confessions he writes some purely theological chapters that are not really auto-biographical. The City of God is mostly straight theology but he does give occasional anecdotes from his life which I find extremely interesting.

Plato? In college I had to read some of his stuff. To be honest in some ways I might not recognize Platonic philosophy even if I saw it. I guess I would probably lean toward Tertullian's view of "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" more than Justin Martyr's view which was very friendly to philosophy. For me God's revelation in Scripture is what I want to conform to instead of worldly wisdom which I think can be "a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Prov. 14:12)."

Hope your week is going well also.

Anonymous said...

Bondage of the Will and The City of God!
Now that’s some time well spent Matt.
Just wish some of my “Lutheran” friends would see the value in that kind of reading instead of the stuff found on the best sellers list or counter at the local Christian book store.

Matt Perkins said...

Hey Anonymous, I agree that it has been time well spent because reading theology like this has increased my desire for and awe of God. I have to watch myself though because I do love knowledge - and what the Apostle taught can certainly be true for me as well, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies(1Cor 8:1b)." With men like Luther and Augustine though, they are so God-centered and so aware of His holiness and glory that it is almost impossible not to be affected in a good way by their writings. Thanks for the comment and hope you come back by!

Josh said...

Thanks for the update Matt, sounds like you enjoyed your time off.

That Whole Person Care class sounds interesting. I'd be interested to hear what you learn from this and how you go about treating the emotional/spiritual issues connected with the person's disease.