Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Really Real Ultimate Power

Hooray for Presbyterian Power!

(Thanks to Kristen for posting this!)

This especially made me laugh:

Q: Why is everyone so obsessed about Presbyterians?

A: Presbyterians are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand they drink wine, but on the other hand, Presbyterians are very strict and conservative.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

J.K. Rowling has confirmed the title of the sixth Potter book.

Release date still unknown.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Razormouth.com is back online, apparently with a narrower focus on all things political.
Alastair Roberts has posted the first installment of his series "N.T. Wright on Justification and Imputation."

This is going to be good and very thorough. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Arise (arise), arise (arise), arise, Arise, my soul, arise...

Whenever we sing Arise, My Soul, Arise, as we did this morning during the worship service, I am reminded of these verses from Isaiah:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the LORD your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.

Isaiah 60: 1-9

Funny word, "arise." Just look at it. Arise. Arise, arise, arise. Someone pointed out this observation today at lunch-- if you repeat a word long enough, it begins to lose it's meaning. I think, though, that when I dwell on this song in the context of WHY we are told to "Arise, shine," and the power of God that draws the nations from afar, I am overcome by such gratitude and praise-- somehow, I understand why those who updated Wesley's hymn decided to emphasize the word in the chorus. After we take Communion together, sometimes we sing "Arise, My Soul, Arise," and I just want to shout with joy: "This is the Gospel! This is why we are the Church! This is why we celebrate the Lord's Supper-- we are all ransomed sinners who have been made beautiful by God. Throw off everything that hinders! Run the race with perseverance! Glorify your Lord!"

Thankfully, so far, I've managed restrain myself. I mean, what would the neighbors think?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Things to do in the City of Peaches

In a comment below on my "Underground" post, someone asked about fun things to do in Atlanta, especially for kids, in the way of educational entertainment. I decided to respond here since my reply was getting too long for Haloscan, and also since this way it is much easier to add links.

I haven't been to Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Science Center yet, but I hear it is fantastic. (I need to get out more, apparently.) That'd be a great place to take kids.

Also, there's the High Museum-- they have a neat folk art secton now. I think you can get in free on some days, but you might want to check on that for sure.

The Botanical Gardens are supposed to be cool. I've seen billboards all over for an interesting artist's exhibition there right now.

If you have time and can afford it, visiting the Fox Theater, even just for a matinee, is an amazing experience. The ceiling alone is worth the price of a play. Of course, I have this great friend who works there who gave me a free tickets once (the only time I've been), but I know if you live in town you can be an usher and see shows just by handing out programs. If only we had the time! If you have the opportunity to see something there, do.

This place is quite scary to me, but if your kids like puppets...

Let's see... they are building the largest aquarium in the South right here in ATL, but I don't think it is supposed to be finished until next year. If you can make the drive, though, the aquarium in Chattanooga is wonderful. I've been there quite a few times, and have taken many groups of campers to see the seahorse exhibit there.

That's about it...I really haven't been in Atlanta long enough to recommend much else. I would suggest touring the Atlanta History Center and some of the historical areas-- I think they have some houses that survived Sherman's march somewhere around here. I also drove through this cool covered bridge once out west of the city near Mableton, but I don't remember how to get there. (See how helpful and specific I am?)

I've never been to the World of Coke myself, although I'm looking out the window at the huge, lighted Coke sign near the Underground right this very minute. I hear if you can drink $7 worth of Coke, it justifies the tour. Actually, with the lack of sleep I've gotten since last Monday, maybe I could do with that much caffeine... ;)

I hope this inspires some of you to visit our fair city. I'm still amazed at how much downtown ATL feels like a miniature New York-- I don't feel like I'm in the South at all. Though the public transportation here is terrible (Marta is NOT always "smarta," as my professor found out yesterday before class), and the traffic insane, I'm getting used to it.

Mainly, though, I think I enjoy the little corner of the metro area where we live the most--northeast of the city, just near the Perimeter (I-285). Doraville, after all, as the town signs announce, is "a good place to live." (What can I say, though, when I grew up in a place that declared itself "A Friendly Town"?) We live just around the corner from Buford Highway, where you can walk two blocks and barely see a sign in English. It's the multicultural capital of Atlanta, and I love it. Most of our neighbors are either South American, Central American, Mexican or some other Hispanic origin. Of course, we've also met many people from Korea, Ethiopia, China, Sweden, and the Ivory Coast. The world at our doorstep, and so many of them who have never heard the Gospel. What an opportunity we have! Atlanta's urban sprawl is a long way from my tiny rural hometown of Geneva, Alabama (population around 5,000), but I think living in Birmingham during college helped me make the transition. After two years here, it is really starting to feel like home.

woo hoo!

More storage space for hotmail.

I've had my hotmail account for soooo long that it'd be sad -- very sad -- to get rid of it. This memory upgrade will justify keeping it alive for the time being.
Future X-Man?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


All those Education terms that get thrown around like "whole language" and "fluency" are popping up in our textbooks. I have to admit that it's not the "anything goes" approach to teaching writing and grammar that I once thought, but I'm still not completely sold on using it full steam. That's okay, though, because we're told we can choose to structure our classrooms with a mixture of the various methods we'll encounter. The method we are currently studying is especially centered on teaching the student to become a part of the writing process through workshops, small group exercises, and yes, even some didactic instruction.

Some of the techniques we are reading about and discussing in class are very familiar to me. I used to make students read their papers aloud (a fantastic way to hear the "voice" in your paper and begin to catch mistakes) when I worked in our college's Writing Center. Another great way to edit "final" drafts is to point out an example of a frequent grammatical error in the paper and ask the student to find more like that on his own. These all work very well-- as part of the final stages of the writing process-- once the students have gotten the material down on paper. However, sometimes students (and I've done this myself) get so caught up in making sure every sentence is perfect during the first draft that can't actually write anything-- it stifles the activity of putting words to the page. Of course, this is where the whole idea of freewriting comes into play, mainly as a pre-writing exercise, where you just write whatever comes to mind for a set amount of time. I first encountered it in my freshman composition course, and still have to remind myself to use it when I get stuck while staring at a blank computer screen.

As an aside, and I know it has been mentioned before, but I still have to plug Zarafa Tutorials. It's a great resource for young writers and I don't want to lose the link!

Mainly, though, I wanted to share something the author of our "Teaching Grammar" text, Constance Weaver, wrote. It is a hilarious take (at least, in my opinion) on our tendency to strive for "correctness" over content. Apologies to Lewis Carroll.


'Twas class time, and the eager youths
Did squirm and wriggle in their seats:
All ready were their fresh ideas,
And their paper was clean and neat.

"Beware the Error beast, my friends!
The jaws that bite, the claws that rend!
Beware the Run-0n bird, and shun
The frumious frag(a)ment."

They took their eraser tips in hand;
Long time the maxome foe they sought--
Then rested they from the Error hunt,
And wrote awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought they wrote,
The Error beast, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through their ballpoint pens,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And back and forth
The eraser tips went snicker-snack!
They left it dead, and to their teach,
They went galumphing back.

"And have you slain the Error beast?
You'll pass this year, victorious youths!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
She chortled then, in truth.

'Twas class time, and the stunted youths
Did slouch and huddle in their seats:
All shortened were their sentences,
And their words had met defeat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I thought it was funny

On the commute home, I saw a bumper sticker for Joe Tribble, who is apparently a realtor in the Atlanta area. Not that we're looking for a house or anything. But I was highly amused by his slogan:

"No Troubles With Tribble."

That's funny. I hope I'm not the only one laughing.

on "Reformed" Baptists

Highly informative article by Alastair discussing the pedigree of Reformed Baptists.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.

But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;

their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.

For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;

they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish--like smoke they vanish away.

(Psalm 37:7-20)

if only ...

if only I could find someone else to go see The Aquabats in concert tonight. That'd be super rad ... but apparently not in the cards for yours truly.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Our national nightmare is over

I finally got my computer upgrade at work. Finally, I can run multiple applications without bringing the CPU to a standstill. And I've got speakers now. Rock, rock on.

Thanks to all of you who have been patiently and supportively watching this drama unfold. We finally made it home.

Light at the tunnel's end?

I.T. called. They are coming up after lunch with my new computer. I'm archiving my files right now. Let's hope that Providence continues to shine upon me.

Underground Atlanta

As I was wandering the area around Georgia State last week, trying to get my bearings, I got caught in a rainshower and sought shelter with a nice middle-aged woman under an overhang. I asked her what shops were in the area, and she answered "Underground Atlanta is right over there, honey." "Where?" I asked. She proceeded to peer around the corner and point to the big archway with "Underground Atlanta" emblazoned on it, not more than 100 yards away. "Ah," I said. "Thanks!" (Yes, apparently I am that oblivious to my downtown Atlanta surroundings. I think I'm still awed by buildings over three stories.)

I remember how friends from my tiny hometown in southeast Alabama would make a big deal about how they had made a trip to Atlanta and shopped at the Underground. However, in my two years of living in Atlanta I have never yet visited the place. I had a few minutes, so, I proceeded to find out just what all the hubbub was about. I would be dissappointed, however, to find it was nothng more than a large tourist trap with a few novelty stores and enough chains to consider the title of "mall." I only spent a few minutes gazing at the capitalistic shrine before heading right out and back up the steps toward GSU's campus.

On my way up, however, I noticed a store window display with books by TD Jakes and Paula White, and my curiosity got the best of me. Was there a Christian bookstore in the Underground? (Hey, with an almost exclusively market-driven Christian industry, and as many times as I've seen those titles under "bestsellers" in Wal-Mart, they WOULD be in the display window.) I couldn't see a door or a store name, so I headed back in to find the entrance. To my horror, I discovered that it was a large store devoted entirely to MegaFest, a combined conference by all the great health-and-wealth preachers of our era. Just look at the lineup listed on the Georgia Dome's website:

Mega Fest 2004, June 23 – 26 in Atlanta combines the Women, Thou Art Loosed! and ManPower conferences along with adding festive events for youth from ages 5-19. This will be one enormous event providing entertainment, fun and power-packed teaching and preaching sessions for all ages. Some of the speakers include: Dr. Les Brown, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Dr. Creflo Dollar, Bishop Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, Co-Pastor Paula White, Pastor Jamal Bryant (youth) and many more. The event will climax when the entire family joins Bishop Jakes at the Georgia Dome for the grand finale of the conference.

Needless to say, I ran screaming and never looked back. We've encountered a few people working in city-wide ministries who are attending Creflo Dollar's "seminary" and others who moved to Atlanta to sit at the feet of one of the various televangilist TBN preachers. It's just scary the unthinking devotion to a "cult of personality" that some people have. Exchanging the truth of God for a lie. I mean, just look at his name, people. Creflo Dollar. *Shudder*

So, all this to say that I think I discovered the "Christian" conference in Atlanta next weekend that is taking all the hotel rooms from the Association of Classical and Christian Schools Conference attendees. It's a darn shame, too.

I really have wanted to go to the ACCS conference, since I think it will be a fantastic supplement to my "large, public university" education courses-- to experience the study of teaching from a clasical Christian perspective. I was especially looking forward to hearing Nancy Wilson speak about teaching English. Ah, well. Circumstances prevent me from going this year, one being the amount of work I have for my graduate courses. (Which is why I'm up at 1am). It's disappointing not to be able to go, especially since it's practically in my backyard. Oh, well. There's always next year...

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Under the Influence

I finished reading Alvin Schmidt's Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, a historical survey of the many ways in which Christianity has impacted Western culture. Overall, I thought it was decent. But lacking in a few areas.

First, I had a few issues with the author's frequent use of Scripture. Not so much the fact that he used Scripture, of course! Rather, the way he used it left much to be desired, often using short "proof-texts" that didn't really support his arguments that well. Here's an excerpt that illustrates this tendency, referring to the context of Jews having multiple wives:
It was this polygynous culture that Jesus entered. But he never lent any support to polygyny. Whenever he spoke about marriage or used a marriage illustration, it was always in the context of monogamy. He said, "The two [not three or four] will become one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). Another time he said that if anyone wished to follow him, he would have to choose him over his brothers, sisters, mother, and his wife (Luke 14:26). He did not say "wives."

His overall point is a good one, but the casual Scripture-dropping seems out of place.

At other times, the author inserted too much extraneous editorial comment. In discussing the impact of Christianity on the arts, Schmidt writes the following about Michelangelo:
His last work, The Last Judgment, shows God as a stern judge, surrounded by the apostles, who look questionably at his acts of condemnation as demons carry away the condemned. Great as this work is, it overlooks the Christian gospel, namely, that there is also forgiveness for those who by faith in Christ "repent, and believe in the good news" (Mark 1:15 NRSV). This shortcoming of The Last Judgment is also true of some other Christian art produced during the late Middle Ages as well as during the earlier years of the Renaissance, whose many biblical teachings are often portrayed in the context of God's condemning law.

Personally, I find these comments pretty non-sensical and carrying a typical modern Evangelical tendency to blunt the force of Scripture's "hard teachings." Also, notice the throwaway use of a prooftext.

But these detractions aside, the book is a marvelous wealth of historical data on the impact of Christianity. The chapter on the sanctity of human life is great, detailing the gradual victory of Christian morality over the dominant Greco-Roman practices of abortion, infanticide, gladiatorial combat, etc. There are also chapters on Christianity's impact on sexual morality, compassion for the sick and poor, and education. I thought the chapters on Christianity's influence on politics and the sciences were pretty interesting, too, although several of the figures mentioned have had their Christianity called into question (Newton, Jefferson, etc). All in all, this is definitely a good source of support for the postmillenial hope that Christ will greatly expand His kingdom, far beyond the mere saving of souls, actually transforming the whole world.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Check out the MAJESTY

During this morning's commute, I saw a car with a Trogdor the Burninator bumper sticker. It was ... pretty niiice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

will the nightmare ever end?

For those keeping score, this marks yet another day of not getting my new desktop at work. I talked to the office manager Monday, and he indicated that I had been "forgotten" -- accidentally left off the list of folks getting new computers (that list includes everyone EXCEPT me and the interns, apparently).

No word on when the situation will be fixed. I have been assured that I.T. is "working on it."

The new computers aren't THAT cool, but I seem to be developing techno-envy...

Monday, June 14, 2004

I've heard quite a bit of talk about "heaven" over the last week, both from the Reagan commemorations and from remarks at our annual family reunion/memorial service. A recent interview with N.T. Wright helps put them all into perspective:

[S]o much of the Bible is appropriately metaphorical and we need to know what it actually refers to, as well as how it refers, but much more important than that is to get into our heads what the New Testament really is banging on about, which is resurrection, which is not a synonym for going to heaven when you die, but is what is going to happen after that. As I’ve often said, heaven is important but it’s not the end of the world. And what the New Testament is on about is what I call “life after life after death.” That is, resurrection life after whatever state we go into after death. So the New Testament teaches a two-stage post-mortem eschatology. And it goes on and on about resurrection and says very little about the intermediate state, which we can call heaven if we like. And it’s very interesting that so much western Christianity has focused on the intermediate state so much that it’s forgotten that there is an ultimate resurrection. And it actually thinks that heaven is all there is. And the answer is, no, not according to the New Testament.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

fun fact

from Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization:

One of Ulrich Zwingli's "reformations" of church practice in Zurich was the removal of all music from the church's worship. Ironically, of the three main reformers (i.e. including Luther and Calvin), Zwingli was by far the most musically talented.

On Reagan's Son

Friday night, as we watched the California sunset service on TV, one of the most striking moments was hearing Ronald Reagan's eldest son, Michael, eulogize his father. He talked of being adopted (in 1945, while Reagan was still married to his first wife), of being the chosen one, and how President Reagan never mentioned it, never acted like or spoke about him as anything less than blood-- a true son of his father.

Near the end of his speech, he talked about all the gifts his father gave him-- both material and spiritual. I thought, at one point, he might break into something cheesy like "my father gave me love," but thankfully, that was not the case. Michael Reagan told a worldwide audience that the greatest gift his father ever gave him was his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He reminisced about a plane ride in 1988 where President Reagan told him about his faith in Christ-- why he was assured of his salvation, and how MIchael could have that same assurance. Michael said he didn't understand it all at the time, but he does now, and is deeply indebted to his father for introducing him to the gospel. He hopes to pass on that gift to his son as well.

I was deeply touched and proud of the way he memorialized his father-- heartfelt, with emotion and (unlike his, in my opinion, often stoic siblings) with a joyful celebration that his dad, Ronald Reagan, along with his late sister Maureen, were together with God, "melanoma and Alzheimer's free." Michael's other two siblings followed his remarks with memories of their own, but I thought they couldn't compare to the gratitude expressed in Michael's speech. What better than to proclaim his father's deeply rooted beliefs in Christ-- and why he knew his father was now in the presence of the Lord.

Of course, the major news outlets have not highlighted that part of his speech, focusing instead on the more anecdotal portion. At least Fox News gives you the option of watching the entire speech on video, unlike CNN...

Doug Wilson on the farewell to Ronald Reagan

The events of the last week have shown us (in the civil realm) the potency of symbols and the power of liturgy. Ideas are important, and ideas have consequences. But liturgy has consequences also. Liturgy moves people, and it is not an irrational and emotional display when it does so. In many ways, and on many levels, Reagan was a class act. How he has left us has been no exception. This has been a grand example of what C.S. Lewis described with the Middle English word solempne -- a joyful and august solemnity.

Indeed, it was moving and joyfully solemn. I'm often skeptical of attempts by the state to evoke the name of God (usually, it's that non-descript, one-size-fits-all "god"), because it all too often seems hypocritical. But the Reagan commemorations struck me as deeply genuine, a reflection on the man they honored.

Although I was glad to see the networks covering the proceedings mostly uninterrupted (and some with minimal commentary), I momentarily felt ashamed watching some of the poignant moments featuring Mrs. Reagan, especially casket-side at the final farewell. During these emotional moments, I felt very much like an uninvited guest snooping on moments that should have been kept private.

Friday, June 11, 2004

the continuing saga

The good news:
The M&M Fairy paid a visit to my desk this morning. Ain't nothing like 500 mL of chocolate goodness, from all across the M&M spectrum! (Well, except for the resulting stomachache.)

The bad news:
The New Computer Fairy didn't pay a visit to my desk today. :(


More from The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, this time from "CHRISTIANITY AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: A Letter to the Reverend Kemper D. Smith," by Craig S. Bulkeley, ca. 1982:

We Christians may have some "religious liberty" today, but in the "liberty of conscience"/"religious liberty" system we will soon be excluded from any meaningful area of life, only because we as Christians find it impossible to lay aside our religion with its absolutes. Neither of us believes in mixing church and state; but I guarantee you, that one day we will not even be allowed to mix our religion with life, because it will be taken as "mixing church and state." It may not look bad now, K. D., but give it time. If we lose our true Biblical liberty of preaching the whole counsel of God, we will be able to say only that we lost the battle before we began, because we did not take God's liberty, but man's. We have to go back to God's law, K. D., and put Jesus before all men without apology, teaching everything that He commanded. If we do not do this, we will leave ourselves and all men in bondage. If we do, we will enjoy the true liberty that only God can give. (p. 273)

Bulkeley gives an informal yet fairly pointed assessment of the defense of "religious liberty" common among Christians in the U.S. He uses the historical example of Rhode Island under (Baptist) Roger Williams to highlight the inconsistencies and failings of this viewpoint. Weary of the rigid morality and theocracy of the New England Puritans, Williams formed the colony of Rhode Island to create a haven for religious tolerance, a place where all viewpoints were given equal legitimacy. In time, this "liberty" ended up undermining the entire colony. If all views were equally legitimate (a function of Williams' misguided beliefs on fallen man's capacity), then the governors of the colony had no standard to which they could appeal when viewpoints conflicted. This ultimately led to the rise of anarchists firmly convinced that the individual's liberty was so sacrosanct that no authority - ecclesiastical or civil - had any right to restrict it in any way. And of course, Williams' philosophical views would have to tolerate even these beliefs for consistency's sake. (Thank goodness for inconsistency.)

Bulkeley rightly notes that any desire for enshrining "neutrality" or "religious liberty" ultimately undermines the Lordship of Christ over all things. As he points out, true liberty can only be found in the Word of God.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Hmm ... the IT guy is in our department with new computers. But my name isn't on the list for "6/10/04 Installation." Horrors! Maybe tomorrow ...

Conventional wisdom?

Interesting post by Peter Leithart, concerning the idea that more troops are needed in Iraq to help stabilize things.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Started reading through the latest (online) issue of Credenda.

Good and provocative stuff on the gay-marriage flap, and what the Christian response should really be.
I was (incorrectly) informed that our division would be getting new desktops at work today. As of 5:15 PM -- no new computer. :(

Maybe tomorrow, I guess ...

Monday, June 07, 2004

the boy who sequel-ed

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a great film. We saw it yesterday and really enjoyed it. I'll spare the re-hash of most of the reviews I've read, but the film was much more "grown-up" than the previous two (which works well with the books' unfolding of themes). Director Alfonso Cuaron did a great job with his telling of the story. I also liked the visuals. The Marauder's Map was done very well, and the dementors were pretty creepy. In fact, the overall effects have progressively improved. We re-watched Sorceror's Stone this weekend (in anticipation!), and although I thought it was well done, there were a few points where substandard visual effects distracted from the movie. (I'm thinking specifically of Firenze and of the cloaked Quirell/Voldemort in the Dark Forest.) I've also liked how they've maintained a consistent cast throughout the films (minus Dumbledore, of course, and a few minor folks).

But that leads to one nagging (minor) question: What happened to Crabbe? He's on-screen a few times at the front end of POA, but later on, everytime we see Malfoy, he's flanked by Goyle and some no-name Slytherin.

Obviously, that's a pretty small criticism. Otherwise, I probably would have enjoyed the addition of some extra stuff from the book (hey, I did the LotR marathon in one day!), but I don't think the exclusions detracted from the movie. I plan on seeing it again. Soon.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Sweet! (I think ...)

Papa John's has a new free DVD promotion going. Tonight, we acquired a free copy of Weekend at Bernie's. Sad to say, it was the BEST of the 3 DVD's from which we were able to choose. But hey, free DVD. That's still good, right?

(It's been almost a week since we got back from vacation, and I'm still trying to come up with something really cool to blog about the Grand Canyon. But it all seems so inadequate. Maybe I'll just post some inadequate pictures ...)

Friday, June 04, 2004

how appropriate

I've been reading through the essays collected in The Failure of American Baptist Culture, having just finished "The Baptist Failure" by Ray R. Sutton. One major thrust of Sutton's is that Anabaptist (and similar) beliefs are fundamentally "subjective," in that they are focused inward and are ultimately man-centered. (By contrast, Augustininian "objective" beliefs focus externally on the work of God through His Law, by His grace, in His Church and ultimately through His Son, etc.) He traces the outworkings of this subjective theology in multiple areas.

Just in time for the re-escalation of the blog wars, I read this section:

IV. Theology of Anabaptism and Exclusivism

Subjective ethics produces exclusivistic doctrine and practice. When Menno Simons gathered the Anabaptists into a peaceful community they were encouraged to separate from the world. In fact, there was not to be "the taking of oaths, participation in war and in the administration of justice. . . . Great stress was laid on separation from all non-Baptist Christians; this went so far as to demand that a marriage should be dissolved in which the husband or wife had been either excommunicated or convicted of unbelief (in anabaptism)." With that pattern established, Baptists have usually been exclusivists. They have separated from everything and everyone that counters their doctrines. Why? Because they individualize the faith. If the covenant is defined around oneself and one's personal belief, then he must isolate to grow in faith. On the other hand, if the covenant incorporates both the singular and the plural, such as the family and the historic church, isolation is avoided. Since this has not been the case, the intrinsically subjective definition of the covenant of God has led to separation.

(p. 169)

And of course, the inward focus of subjectivism results in the unyielding desire to enforce purity within the church via separation. All in the name of "Defending the Gospel," of course.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Muggle Studies

So, I, uh, finished Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban this evening, while dinner was cooking. It only took me four days, during a really busy week, to finish-- not bad. And, since it was such a pleasant excursion, I might just have to indulge and re-read the fourth book before school starts.

That is, I'll start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire after our huge Summer Kick-Off Pool Party and Cookout this Saturday at our apartment complex, since we're in charge. If I didn't hold off, things could be dire. I can hear it now...

Helpful Volunteer: "Allison, where are the extra Cokes?"

Me: "Huh? Wha-? Oh, I don't know anything-- I just got to the part with the dragons. Ask Gaines."

Yeah, I definitely think it can wait.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Last week, while we were out in Arizona, I was surprised to learn that there is actually a University of Phoenix in Phoenix.

And to think I once thought it only existed in banner ads (there could be one at the top of this page RIGHT NOW!!) and in physical facilities that supported those banner ads.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Summer Reading Lists

Until last week, I hadn't been on an airplane in almost two years. It felt good to fly. The time in the air also gave me a chance to catch up on some oft-neglected books.

Reading Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek while traipsing around the Sonoran Desert was a bit of an environmental antithesis for my brain. While I spent my evenings learning about the transcendental nature of Eskimos and the poetic cruelty of water-dwelling insects, my days were filled with Saguaro cacti, dry desert heat, dusty mountains, and rock squirrels. Most of the water I encountered in Arizona was in plastic bottles.

I finished Pilgrim the last night of our stay, so on the plane ride back (and in our long airport layover) I read Their Eyes Were Watching God. I'd never read this high school "classic" before. I'm thankful I borrowed it last year from Gaines' parents' house, since we have to discuss it in one of my graduate education courses on the second day of class. It is also one less book I've had to buy. (Checking the mail has been fun lately-- I'm getting at least a package a day since I ordered all of my school books used, and they're coming from different booksellers.)

Somewhere over Texas I became the third Redd to finish reading this particular copy of Their Eyes-- first Gaines, then his sister Amy, then me. (And since it has our last name written in nice big letters on the side, I'll never get it mixed up with anyone else's!) I don't think I've swallowed a book whole like that in a long while. (At least I know my voraciousness is still around, even if only in spurts.) I greatly enjoyed the colloquial dialogue-- once I got Gaines to stop reading it over my shoulder in his "funny voice." The story, with a strong female protagonist, was very different from other black narratives I've read in the past, even Morrison, and I particularly enjoyed Hurston's writing style. Certain paragrpahs stuck out at me, like this one:

When God made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but he still glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks made them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.

Now I'm reading Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban in between more bursts of Wright, since the film version debuts Friday. (I've given up on Return of the Native-- the decrepit, yellowed paperback copy I had was in such bad shape it fell apart before I got to chapter three.) I took a few moments this morning to read HP while doing laundry, and I'm already on the fourth chapter. It does fly by, but it's a fantastic read, especially since I know I'll be inundated with much more time-consuming books very soon. I begin classes at Georgia State on June 14th, so I'm taking advantage of any spare moments NOW, since I know I won't have them much longer...