Breakfast Blend 12.18.14

The Power of Writing About Yourself – “Reflective writing, particularly in a journal, has been shown to have health benefits both physical and emotional, like increasing control and creativity, decreasing anxiety, depression, and rage. But it’s hard to do. I’ve promised myself I’d start keeping a journal on at least 7,000 separate occasions. ”

10 Questions To Find Your Writing Voice – “Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, you must find your writing voice. But what does that mean? Your writing voice is not your particular writing style, although style is part of voice. It’s also not the tone of your writing, although tone is part of voice as well. Your writing voice is your unique way of looking at the world.”

2014: A Review of the Year – There are a lot of great yearly round-ups going around, but Andrew Wilson’s is my favorite.

An Interview with Jack Kerouac - A Fascinating and disturbing one, from the Paris Review.

Secrets of the Creative Brain – Exceedingly long, absolutely fascinating, and deeply disturbing.

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Creativity, Insanity, and God’s Grace.

The article I’m posting today on The Science of the Creative Brain struck a chord with me.

I saw myself in it. And what I saw was, frankly, terrifying: I could see myself so easily tripping over the fine line between “creativity” and “insanity”. I could see myself so easily going from “connecting things in a new and helpful way” to “connecting things that aren’t connected”.

It made me question whether I should put creativity away altogether – not like that’s possible. But it made me not want to be what I am.

And then I thought about that fact: God made me to be creative. He made other creative people to be creative. And, more clearly than ever before, I think I saw the precipice from which God’s grace rescued me: without the solid framework of scripture, I would be given up to my own ends.

I would go on, making connection after connection after connection. But because I didn’t seek the Great Connector, I would bury myself in my own hole of creativity. Insanity is the logical result of creativity in a godless world.

But in a world framed by the gospel, creativity is the art of cultivating creation to meet its proper ends. In the hands of a Christian, creativity becomes about flourishing within the Biblical framework, not floundering outside of it.

And that, I realized, is God’s absolute grace to me. He has not given me up to my own ends. He has given me a solid rock, Jesus Christ, on which to build. The Holy Spirit who inspired life and order and creativity itself dwells within me.

And that’s why I can be creative to the glory of God.

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Is it Ridiculous to Believe in a Literal Adam and Eve?

If I’m totally honest, I’ve always had a difficult time with Genesis 1-3. As I translated these chapters in Hebrew this semester, I found myself honestly thinking: “Do I really believe this? It sounds so much like a myth. It doesn’t sound like history.”

A garden of paradise, a talking snake, an “evil” apple…do I really believe this?

But yesterday, as I read through O. Palmer Robertson’s incredible OT survey, “Christ of the Covenants”, a light suddenly dawned on me:

Every single worldview has a ridiculous beginning.

A giant explosion that came from nowhere.

Crystals formulating the beginning of human life as we know it.

Half-man, half-apes walking around the face of the earth.

Extra-Terrestrials using us as a giant test-tube.

Whatever your worldview is, we all recognize that the beginning looked wildly, radically, ridiculously different than things do now. So if your objection to the scriptural worldview is, “It sounds too unlike reality to be true,”, then you’ll need to apply that same logic to ANY story of beginnings – which, of course, leaves none left.

The one difference is this: in the Genesis account, we have a reason for why things look so radically different now. Things used to be one way because a different moral order ruled. And when we look around us, that seems about right, doesn’t it?

The question isn’t “What origins story sounds the most like the world today?” The question is: “Which makes the most sense of the world today?”

And the answer, I think, is: “The one found in Genesis 1-3.”

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Breakfast Blend 12.17.14

Your Mind is a Spin Machine - “If you want to change people’s minds, you’ve got to talk to their elephants.”

10 Lessons I’ve Learned from 10 Years of Blogging - “Having blogged for 10 years at the same site doesn’t make me an expert, but it does give me significant experience. Over that decade of blogging here, along with several other personal and professional sites, I have learned some valuable lessons that may help others in the world of online writing.”

For Those who Struggle with SAD – David Murray’s material is full of help and practicality.

Luke Skywalker and How Progressive Revelation Works – This post proves something I’ve thought for a long, long time: more theologians should be meshing Star Wars with Biblical Theology.

17 Ways to Build Your E-mail List - This is a little overwhelming, but I’ll be taking my cue from at least a couple.

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Breakfast Blend 12.16.14

Kuyper on Christians and Scholarship - “Scholarship: Two Convocations on University Life offers an easy way to experience Kuyper’s thought. Here, in about 50 pages, readers can take in the voice of a man who was a pastor, theologian, newspaper editor, university president, and prime minister of the Netherlands. The two addresses were given at the beginning of two school years, 11 years apart.”

15 Resources for Creating Social Media Images – I’ve been looking for a good resource like this for awhile.

The 6 Elements of Persuasion Infographic - “The word “influencer” gets thrown around a lot in business, but how does the power of the persuasion really work? An infographic from U.K.-based virtual phone service Everreach, explains the elements companies can utilize to impact their customers and get to “yes.” The list is based on the teachings of Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the popular book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. “

C.S. Lewis Interview with Sarah Waters – “Sarah Waters is currently a postgraduate at the University of Buckingham, England, researching the influence of Shakespeare on Lewis, particularly looking at the relationship between the two as seen in Narnia, and uncovering the often brushed aside parts of Lewis’s character, such as his day job as an academic.”

Allison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma Sing an Old Christmas Carol - Beautiful.

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What it Means To Be A “Profound” Writer.

St. Augustine once quipped, “I think as I write, and I write as I think,” a sentiment Calvin would quote centuries later.

The point was, for them: good writing = good thinking.

And while I’ve always held that to be true, I’ve been realizing lately that more so than anything, good writing simply helps me realize what I’ve been thinking the whole time.

And that’s what great writers do: they help us to realize what we’ve been thinking all along.

Amazing writers aren’t necessarily wildly original. What makes amazing writers amazing is their ability to catch thoughts in midair, and wrestle them down onto paper. They show us how all of our actions only play second-fiddle to the little stories being enacted in our brains – the stories that have been on replay so long that we don’t see them anymore, or hear them, or think about them, or question them.

True writers hold these subconscious musings up to us and say, “Look who I am. See? Look who you are. See? Now think about it.”

Start catching yourself thinking, even and especially about the most mundane things of life.

In the end, I think that’s what it means to be profound.

 

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Why So Many Christmas Movies?

I was flipping around Netflix a couple of days ago with my boys, and stumbled across an oddly vast assemblage of Christmas movies.

It got me wondering: Why?

Besides the obvious answer, “They make money”, I think the answer is: “Christmas is the time when the American mythology of consumerism confronts us the clearest.” In our desperate attempt to replace Christian myth (as C.S. Lewis has said, “true myth”) with our own, Christmas seems the one place, every year, where consumerism is caught naked.

No matter how hard we try, it never “feels” right to make it all about the stuff.

And that’s what Christmas movies are all about: desperately grasping at straws for something besides the Christian story, which doesn’t fall as flat as consumerism. And that’s why they continue to make money.

It’s also why they’re sentimental, and increasingly, cynical. We know what we have going for us isn’t enough.

That’s great news for Christians – because it’s also the time of year when people are most open to questioning their story, and replacing it with the true story about King Jesus.

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Breakfast Blend 12.15.14

The Key to the Entire Bible – Loved this J.C. Ryle quote, from T. Wax.

How to Make Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Home - Kathryn claims these are “better than Starbucks”. We shall see. Being a Starbucks junkie, I’m skeptical of any coffee that costs less than $5.00.

How to Make a Good Analogy – “I’ve long argued that good analogies are a key to learning well. Abstract subjects like math, science and philosophy are difficult to learn because they aren’t anchored to anything in our experience. Analogies moor these ideas adrift.”

What’s the Difference Between a Story’s Message and Theme? “One of the common myths about a story’s theme is that it must also be the story’s “moral” or “message.” Because theme always deals with fundamental truths that inevitably affect human morality, it’s easy to assume a story’s theme must always be specific and applicable to the readers.”

Garr Reynolds’ Fantastic TEDx Talk on 10 Tips for Effective Speeches (click-through if you can’t see it via e-mail):

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N.T. Wright’s 6 Worldview Q&A’s for Paul.

In answer to these basic worldview questions, I’ll try to summarize Wright’s answers (which originally took 600 something pages) and try not to muck it up:

1. Who are we? We are the church, the Messiah’s people. We are Jews, but we are the new way to be Jewish. We belong to the Jewish Messiah, who is the climax of Jewish history. There are not two trees – one for Gentiles, and one for Jews. There is one.

2. Where are we? We are in a world ruled by the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

3/4. What’s wrong? What’s the solution? What’s wrong is death, and the powers of darkness. The solution is, in principle, the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. These powers have been defeated. But the Messiah’s people still have work to do, before that work is consummated: through prayer, the Spirit, and hope in the resurrection.

5. What time is it? It is the Sabbath. If the Sabbath is not simply God “chillaxing” on the seventh day, but instead takes on the sense of any ancient Eastern religion – that is, He inhabits, dwells in, and effectively rules – then we are in the Sabbath age. Jesus has inhabited earth, and we live in that time.

6. What is the central symbol of this worldview? The church – God’s people on display.

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Breakfast Blend 12.12.14

This is your brain on writing. “A novelist scrawling away in a notebook in seclusion may not seem to have much in common with an NBA player doing a reverse layup on a basketball court before a screaming crowd. But if you could peer inside their heads, you might see some striking similarities in how their brains were churning.”

Your Essential Proofreading Checklist. “Thinking back, I would have loved to have a proofreading checklist. Since I know I’m not the only wannabe perfectionist out there, I decided to create the post below to help anyone in a similar scenario.”

Who is the Angel of the Lord? R.C. Sproul answers.

C.S. Lewis on the incarnation. “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation.”

25 editing tips – a checklist. This one’s a little more extensive and compact all at once.

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