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Showing posts from August, 2017

Book in Review: Orthodoxy

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I have read almost 4 books by G. K. Chesterton thus far; and Orthodoxy is a masterpiece. The best of what I have read from him yet. Witty, hilarious, intellectually astute--Chesterton is in fine form throughout. And though Orthodoxy is heady, you will find that Chesterton's humor and skill with the pen make it an entertaining, almost addictive read. His paradoxical manner of framing big ideas, his undeniable ability to wield "common" sense as a weapon, his way of speaking to universal human experiences--together makes him one of the most enjoyable writers of his time. And he's not pulling any punches with the philosophers of his day either.
In the introduction, Chesterton self-deprecatingly describes himself as a man who sent out from England to explore new lands but gets blown off course in his travels and unknowingly arrives back in downtown London, where he then proceeds to claim this "new land" for England! Chesterton then charts his spiritual journey fr…

Ryle on Sin

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I ran across this from J. C. Ryle in his book Holiness. I thought it relevant:
"A Scriptural view of sin is one of the best antidotes to that vague, dim, misty, hazy kind of theology which is so painfully current in the present age. It is vain to shut our eyes to the fact that there is a vast quantity of so-called Christianity now days which you cannot declare positively unsound, but which, nevertheless, is not full measure, good weight and sixteen ounce to the pound. It is a Christianity in which there is undeniably 'something about Christ and something about grace and something about faith and something about repentance and something about holiness', but it is not the real 'thing as it is' in the Bible. Things are out of place and out of proportion. As old Latimer would have said, it is a kind of 'mingle-mangle', and does no good. It neither exercises influence on the daily conduct, nor comforts in life, nor gives peace in death; and those who hold it oft…

Weekend Rant 8.26.17

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Yesterday I finished Pilgrim's Progress--John Bunyan's Christian classic. I remember reading children's versions of this book when I was younger, complete with illustrations, and I would admire my favorite scene of Christian duking it out with the devilish fiend Apollyon. But reading through the original I cannot help but be impressed by the incredible desperation that Bunyan paints the Christian walk. This is not some sort of beneficial, feel good Christianity. This is not the health and wealth gospel. Evangelicalism these days I fear has been reduced to this encouraging, positive thinking brand which, as much as I would like to believe it, does not seem to match the extreme, entirely demanding tones throughout all of Scripture. Seriously, I can barely listen to our local Christian radio station 91.9 anymore because they are always having a "positive thought for the day"; branding themselves as "encouraging, uplifting" music.
I do not want positive. I d…

Why?

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I recently found "Paradise Lost" by John Milton for free on Gutenberg.org--and I am just about half way through. I know I am missing a lot though the old(er) English and the Greek mythological allusions, but I am getting the gist of it--and I find it fascinating! In fact, a lot of the things I have heard as a child about Satan do not come from Scripture but from Milton's classic. For instance: "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven" is Milton. The devil's logic that spells out, "Since I cannot attack God, I can attack His chief creation (man) and thereby attack God" derives mainly from Milton.
My favorite verse so far is early on when John Milton describes why an almighty God would allow Satan to break from his chains in hell to then ultimately seduce Adam and Eve out of paradise:
So stretcht out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay Chain'd on the burning Lake, nor ever thence Had ris'n or heav'd his head, but that the will And high pe…

White Nationalism, Nationalism, and Jesus

There has been a lot of sad news going on in the media with the emergence of the "alt-right" and "white supremacists" in Charlottesville, Virginia. After watching a few videos on it, I quite honestly feel sick to my stomach. How can we after the very recent reminder of the rise and fall of the Third Reich, let this surface in our country? I am adamantly for free speech, but fringe activity that speaks to the extermination and expulsion of ethnicity, for no other fact than they are non-European, is disgusting and should not be tolerated. I do not understand how these radical groups continue to gain their appeal.
So the question has to be raised: what is race? I do not believe a naturalistic worldview helps us here, as under their premises 1) humans have no more inherit value than the animals that share our ancestry and 2) certain races may be more pure, or further along in their evolutionary process and therefore can be preferred to before others. Darwin's entire…

Book in Review: Manalive

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Manalive is book I read over my vacation by G. K. Chesterton. It tells the story of 6 humdrum, modern adults as they stay together at Beacon House. Like most modern grown-ups these figures are similarly boring: dull, thoroughly scientific, reasonable, and unromantic. Trapped in the routines and confines of a busy modern world; alive, but barely. What they need, is the same thing many of us need: to be awaken.

Then comes Chesterton’s hero, Innocent Smith. The guy is unquestionably weird, and every one of the "normal ones" (along with the reader) naturally assume Smith to be insane. He is tall, his head is too small, and his legs are always restless. He is childlike and impulsive. Climbing trees, dining on roofs, playing make believe games, giving his wife secret identities and then pursuing her as if she was his first love--the guy is strange to say the least. But in paradoxical Chesterton fashion, Manalive ends up showing how the insane one, is actually the sane doctor--sent …

Transposition

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Have you ever had a difficult time envisioning heaven? Or maybe find that the vague descriptions in the Bible lack the vibrancy that some lesser experiences on earth can bring?
C. S. Lewis writes an essay entitled "Transposition" in the book Weight of Glory. It is about why we often view heaven in negative terms. We know through Scripture that there will be no marriage, no family, no tears; but since these things are fundamental to human experience, we struggle to envision a world without them. We know that in heaven we will be with God, so there is no question it will be very good; but sometimes we just lack the terms to think of it properly.
Lewis explains why this is a case and provides a helpful illustration: Imagine there is a woman who has been thrown into a dungeon. The dungeon is dark, the walls are damp; and apart from a small grate in the ceiling there is no other access to the world outside. Other than the blue sky that sometimes shines through that grate, everythin…

Loving the World

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Travelling is a great time to do some soul searching. My wife and I recently had the opportunity to get a way for almost two weeks, to go off the grid. To read, think, and do some self-examination. What I found in myself is something I had felt for a while but had failed to recognize: something called morbidness.

I do not mean morbidness in this instance to mean a fixation on death, or a fetish for strange, Halloween trinkets. What I do mean is an unhealthy pessimism: a skeptical escapism that cares little for people, and just wants to get away. The times that we live in do not do us any favors, and I wonder if anyone else can relate.

Looking at the world, scrolling through social media, observing family and friends--it is hard not to get discouraged. I have seen myself grow somewhat calloused and cold. Bitter. Selfishly waiting for the millennium. My recurring day dream is to go far away on a whale boat like Ishmael in Moby Dick or some isolated fortress in Idaho where I can live out m…