Thank you for your patience this month. I’ve been completing my M.Div at Gordon Conwell, and I’ve needed to take a sabbatical from the blogosphere. My time away gave me some fresh vision, and rather than explain, I’ll show you what that looks like below. More to come.
Kindle Deal of the Week: And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie for $1.99
Apologetics: Philosophy for Understanding Theology: This is from Diogenes Allen’s wonderful book, summarizing the history of western ideas as they pertain to Christian thought:
“Scientific criticism of religion inevitably begins by positing some question that religion supposedly must be asking, such as ‘Where did we and everything come from?’ Christianity’s response of God as the cause of everything is then dismissed as being a metaphysical answer, for it takes the notion of ’cause’ outside the realm of empirical meaning. But to lay a scientific grid of causal explanation on religious claims is imperious on the part of science, to say the least. For while Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have doctrines of creation, historical study has shown that they did not begin with this question….”
“This does not mean that Christianity does not have a response to the question of where we and everything thing came from, but when it does its answer needs to be seen within the grammar mar of the religion as a whole…”
“…More broadly, then, religion has to recognize that it is not physics or biology, and science has to refrain from overextending its explanations and becoming an ersatz religion, a ‘scientific mythology.'”
Preaching: Ten Top Teaching Tips? It’s up to you to decide whether there are 10, or 9.
Spiritual Life: Bonhoeffer Preaching to the Fearful – If you read Mohler’s post below, you’ll need to read this afterward.
Theology: George MacDonald on God’s Fatherhood: “The hardest, gladdest thing in the world is to cry Father! from a full heart . . . the refusal to look up to God as our father is the one central wrong in the whole human affair; the inability, the one central misery.”
Fun: Lionel Messi Highlight Reel – I’m not a soccer fan, but watching this scrappy pedo-genius move around almost convinces me.
A Glimpse of Truth: Infinite Jest – From David Foster Wallace’s postmodern tome, comes this strikingly honest, almost prophetic exchange:
‘You burn to have your photograph in a magazine.’
‘I’m afraid so.’
‘Why again exactly, now?’
‘I guess to be felt about as I feel about those players with their pictures in magazines.’
‘Why? I guess to give my life some sort of kind of meaning, Lyle.’
‘And how would this do this again?’ ‘Lyle, I don’t know. I do not know. It just does. Would. Why else would I burn like this, clip secret pictures, not take risks, not sleep or pee?’ ‘…
The first photograph, the first magazine, the gratified surge, the seeing themselves as others see them, the hagiography of image, perhaps. Perhaps the first time: enjoyment. After that, do you trust me, trust me: they do not feel what you burn for. After the first surge, they care only that their photographs seem awkward or unflattering, or untrue, or that their privacy, this thing you burn to escape, what they call their privacy is being violated. Something changes. After the first photograph has been in a magazine, the famous men do not enjoy their photographs in magazines so much as they fear that their photographs will cease to appear in magazines. They are trapped, just as you are.’
‘Is this supposed to be good news? This is awful news.’
‘LaMont, are you willing to listen to a Remark about what is true?’
‘The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.’
‘Maybe I ought to be getting back.’
‘LaMont, the world is very old. You have been snared by something untrue. You are deluded. But this is good news. You have been snared by the delusion that envy has a reciprocal….You burn with hunger for food that does not exist.’
‘This is good news?’
‘It is the truth. To be envied, admired, is not a feeling. Nor is fame a feeling. There are feelings associated with fame, but few of them are any more enjoyable than the feelings associated with envy of fame.’
‘The burning doesn’t go away?’
‘What fire dies when you feed it? It is not fame itself they wish to deny you here. Trust them. There is much fear in fame. Terrible and heavy fear to be pulled and held, carried. Perhaps they want only to keep it off you until you weigh enough to pull it toward yourself.’
Writing: From my Journal: This week I’ve sat down, for the first time in months, and finally put hands to the keyboard, to write. Something I’ve noticed: the first day is always the hardest. It’s like waking up in the morning, or like driving a stick shift for the first time, or biking uphill before the downward descent. This, I realized, is one of the reasons I need to write everyday – because the first day is always the hardest. The goal is never to have a first day, to let the process burn indelibly in your psyche, to man-handle your muse until it is finally meeked and comes willingly to your side each morning. Now that you’ve wrestled down that first day, don’t let there be a first day again. Keep your fingers lubricated by a keyboard, or they will grow rusty.
Books and Lit: What Makes Pixar Stories Great – I wish more Christian film critics would take this to heart. Moralism actually makes a story great, it doesn’t subtract from it. But the moral comes after you’ve spun the story.
Christians and Culture: Liberalism Cashes Out – I want to dismiss Mohler’s comments as fear mongering, but the quotes from Mark Tushnet, professor of law at Harvard, still haunt me.
Leadership and Productivity Award: Endurance Needed – Matt Chandler says “This is one of the best sermons on pastoral ministry I’ve ever heard.” Indeed. Be encouraged.