Monday, May 31, 2004

Treading the dawn

I revamped my reading list over our vacation, since I really didn't feel like lugging the Institutes around with me. Instead, I re-read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, my favorite of the Chronicles. I think this fondness is because of the quest motif, since I've always enjoyed stories where adventurers travel from place to place on some errand, encountering strange and amazing things on each leg of the journey, whether it be The Odyssey (or even The Aeneid), Huckleberry Finn, or The Legend of Zelda.

This could also explain why I like roadtripping so much.


Expect an abundance of blogging in the near future: Allison and I just got back from a week's vacation in Arizona. Very nice, especially the two days we spent at the Grand Canyon.

But first things first. Upon arriving home, I was saddened to learn from my middle sister that our family dog, Lucy, died this weekend. Lucy was a pretty strange dog. My youngest sister "rescued" her from the shelter as a puppy, 8 years ago. Lucy was born with a deformed paw, but she never let her handicap keep her down. Through persistence, she managed to upgrade her status to "indoor dog," even though she left the carpet and furniture coated in a thin layer of white hair. (Of course, my sisters' tendency to dress her in "people clothes" and to allow her to sleep in their beds probably played a role here.) We think she may have had a thing for my Dad, since she always growled jealously whenever Mom gave him a kiss or hug. My family learned to be nimble and watchful, due to Lucy's proclivity for snatching unattended food (her greatest feat being a pound of uncooked bacon from the kitchen counter). For a while, we even thought she had somehow mastered the art of opening the back door with her paws. (It turned out that the door just didn't close completely. But hey, she still gets points for figuring that much out.) Despite her quirks, she was a faithful dog, ever keeping watch against the wiles of the UPS man (she even raised the bar for watchfulness by taking a healthy bite out of every package delivered to the house -- just in case). She always seemed glad to see me (and Allison, once she joined the family) whenever we came home to visit.

She will be missed.

Monday, May 24, 2004


Good article by Ben Witherington III that debunks the periodic upsurge of "What happened to the lost books of the Bible?" conspiracy-theorizing. (Note: Good article, but the CT website didn't do the best job with the formatting ...)

And just in time, since Dan Brown is working on the Da Vinci Code sequel.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Too Much TV

After watching the Alias finale (not Marshall!), we were channel surfing and stumbled across one of the five local religious channels available on our very basic cable plan. Since it is about the only night a week we watch TV, we have to get our TBN-like laugh allotment, right?

So, anyway, some guy named "Apostle Skip" who heads a scary Day Star Tabernacle International cul--er, church, was on. His podium is a large mirrored star, and his stage props included faux gold "lampstands" with fake fire -- you know, the kind with a piece of orange and red cloth attatched to a fan. Classic gaudy.

I just wanted to share his "best Bible verse misuse" of the evening.

"Listen y'all, God is a businessman. (You know it!) Because Jesus was 'about His Father's business.'"

Okay, so, at least, I found it funny at the time. Maybe I had too much caffeine.

Friday, May 21, 2004

This will probably put even more dangerous thoughts in my brain

And I was trying to keep myself limited to reading 3 books or less at once ...

But The Failure of the American Baptist Culture looks like a good read so far, even if it's a tad dated. The first essay discusses the "intellectual schizophrenia" in modern Baptistic America (and the bulk of evangelicalism that it has influenced). I think it's pretty relevant in light of the gay marriage debacle. Evangelical Christians want to stand tall (and rightfully so) and oppose the normalizing of a gross sin, but their own presuppositions cut their legs out from under them. If we buy into the "myth of neutrality" and refuse to acknowledge that our civil laws must be rooted in God's law, how can we consistently oppose sin?

I hope to stick with this one, although I don't have such a good record with online books. If I can do this one, maybe I can finally get around to reading those AAPC papers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Knowledge comes and then it goes, but wisdom lingers...

As I contemplate my impending return to the world of academia, and my fast and furious foray into the public university, I keep talking about how I'm "going back" to school. The truth is, I never really left.

In the two years since my last walk in a cap and gown, I've learned about ecclesiology, culture, homemaking, world politics, religion, family life and ethics. Those who say that graduation is only the beginning of a lifetime of learning-- they're right. And these are just things I've collected from neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. That list doesn't even come close to including the seemingly ceaseless study and ongoing discussions about theology and culture-- and everything in between-- that Gaines and I daily share. And then there's all those books (and blogs) I read...

In light of all my "knowledge-gathering," past, present, and future, I must keep in mind that knowlegde alone breeds pride and arrogance, but "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Dr. George Grant reminded me of this in a recent entry (May 12) on his blog:

All talk of education is for us a reminder that we have only just begun to learn how to learn. It is an affirmation that though our magnificent heritage has introduced us to the splendid wonders of literature and art and music and history and science and ideas in the past--we have only just been introduced and that a lifetime adventure in these vast and portentous arenas still awaits us. Indeed, the most valuable lessons that education can convey are invariably the lessons that never end. That is actually at the heart of the Christian philosophy of education—a philosophy which provoked the most remarkable flowering of art, music, literature, science, and progress that the world has ever seen; a philosophy rooted in a desire for wisdom and understanding, not just knowledge; a philosophy focused on putting knowledge in context.

As I work to form a statement of my own philospohy of education in preparation for my first day of class next month, I find his thoughts extrememly helpful-- and humbling.

(Oh, and if anyone really cares, the title for this post is from a Dog Named David song. I miss those guys.)

now THAT is funny

From Blog and Mablog:
Today marks the second day of Massachusetts' court ordered, legally sanctioned hatred of bisexuals. By limiting marriage licenses to two and only two people, they have clearly displayed their deep seated animus toward those differently wired people/persons/bi-pedal carbon units who have a sexual attraction for both sexes.

Monday, May 17, 2004

On a happier note

We had the distinct privilege of seeing Randall Goodgame in concert this weekend. That alone would have been reason for great rejoicing, since he's way cool. He played an abundant selection of good tunes, including Allison's favorite, "The Peanuts Trilogy." (Of course, I'm more partial to "The Pope Was A Lady" -- nuh-uh!)

But the better part of the evening was talking with Randall afterwards about the upcoming Caedmon's Call album. He has played an integral part in the songwriting process for the album, including traveling to India with the band to cultivate material. The concept sounds really cool. Musically, they are trying to incorporate elements from a great number of ethnic musical styles from around the world, including India, Ecuador and Brazil. But the lyrical themes of the album seem to revolve around the concept (shocking as it may sound to some) that the American church is not THE Church. A special focus of the album will be on the the dalits -- the "untouchable" caste of Indian society. Randall was extremely excited about the album, and we are too! Obviously, the Redds (among others) have been a bit disappointed with the last two offerings from Caedmon's, but hope springs eternal.


So, any discussion about "the Law" amongst evangelicals is bound to yield some interesting comments. But I was astounded to hear, in a group discussion, a person question the motives of the women who prepared Jesus' body for burial after the crucifixion. The grounds? Luke tells us that they waited until the first day of the week to finish annointing Him with spices, because "on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Which obviously means that they esteemed the old commandment more than the new "liberty" they had in Christ.

Chick Tract Update

Ah, that crazy Jack Chick is up to his old cartooning tricks again with Birds and the Bees. I especially like the little devils crawling all over Larry and Charles. At first, I thought they were supposed to be vets, not dentists! My favorite quote: "Their stink reached up to heaven and God was fed up with them." Or maybe, "If anyone tries to make you Gay, stay away from them." (Original italics included.)

Thankfully, for all of us too dense to understand the masterful skills of Chicky-Man himself, Scott Ward over at the BHT has kindly provided us with a Translation.

And he's updated all the archives on his website, too. That's some good readin', folks!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Dreadful indeed

From Prince Caspian:
"I - I left it too late," said Susan, in an embarrassed voice. "I was so afraid it might be, you know -- one of our kind of bears, a talking bear." She hated killing things.

"That's the trouble of it," said Trumpkin, "when most of the beasts have gone enemy and gone dumb, but there are still some of the other kind left. You never know, and you daren't wait to see."


Lucy shuddered and nodded. When they had sat down she said: "Such a horrible idea has come into my head, Su."

"What's that?"

"Wouldn't it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men started going wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you'd never know which were which?"

Friday, May 14, 2004

Vintage Wright

Good Wright article (ca. 1980) on Justification, linked from Al's blog.

The positive result of justification is that we live for God because Christ has died for us. Good works, as the Reformers never tired of saying, are done not to earn salvation but out of gratitude for it: not out of fear lest we should be lost after all but out of joy that we are saved after all. Sanctification is the completion, not of justification, but of regeneration: holiness is the continuation and bringing to perfection (in the resurrection of believers) of the good work which God has begun by the new birth. Justification is a different kind of event altogether: regeneration and sanctification are acts of grace to change the heart and life, whereas justification is the declaration, anticipating the verdict of the last day, that the believer is in the right. Justification results in holiness because it presupposes the new birth. It is therefore also the basis of Christian assurance, the certain hope of eternal life. Assurance is not an extra blessing over and above justification, but simply the outworking of justification itself, the realization that the Spirit who inspired faith and now inspires love will continue until, in the resurrection, he has produced the full harvest of which he himself is presently the first fruits.

("Justification: The Biblical Basis and its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism")

Good stuff, especially in the linkage of the eschatological declaration of righteousness with the glorified resurrection state of the believer. That final verdict is delivered BECAUSE God has finished the job of redeeming the believer. It is still free grace from the first to the last.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

What was my major, again?

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Thanks to Richard for the link)


We just received Chronicles in the mail on Monday. Um, yeah, if you were counting, that's a month late. (I won't even go into what I think of the duplicitous Grassroots changeover. Let's just say we won't be ordering from them anymore.)

Anyway, I'm listening to it as I'm cleaning this morning, and it's alright. The two new songs aren't anything to speak of lyrically or anything. New-ish Caedmons sound. It's good to hear the old songs, but I'll always enjoy listening to Guild 1 or 40 Acres or My Calm//Your Storm more than this.

When I take a break to read the liner notes, I notice something. The only acknowledgement they give Aaron Tate on the entire album is to credit him as a songwriter. He's not in the "Thanks" except included with the "all our family, friends, relatives, and those who have helped us over the last 12 years." To give them benefit of the doubt they don't thank Randall anywhere else either, but still, he's a very recent addition. I just think it is odd and a little sad that Aaron's not greatly acknowledged, when his songwriting is what drew much of their loyal fan base in the early years. I mean, he wrote ALL of MC//YS. Of course, Derek and Sandra are thanked, and Derek is listed under "The Band: Past and Present." As it should be. But not even a nod to Aaron? Hmmmm.

I'm curious to hear the internationally inspired songs coming out in the fall. If they use lots of Randall's songs and Andrew Osenga's and stay away from Josh's songwriting, it'll be fine. I have my doubts, though. If only the "organic, folk" sound that Cliff promises for the next album comes true. We'll see...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


I'm still not so sure about this new Blogger setup ...

But, I'll use this opportunity to say "Congratulations!!" to my sister, Amy, who graduated yesterday from the University of Alabama. (We can't all be perfect.)

Friday, May 07, 2004

I'm curious where the practice of "praying against the devil" originated. I'm frequently in gatherings (especially in cross-denominational ones) where I encounter this. Specifically, I'm referring to prayers that go something like:

"And, Lord, I claim authority in Jesus' name, Lord, against the spiritual powers of darkness, Lord. (Yes, Lord.) Lord, I rebuke them in Jesus' name, Lord. Evil spirits, you have no power over us. etc etc"

The most disturbing part, for me, is the gradual shift away from petitioning God for protection and towards actually addressing the fiends of the netherworld. Are we really supposed to be having a shouting match against the devils? I'm in no way making light of the Scriptural warnings that Satan is a roaring lion and that the powers and principalities, though defeated, still wage war against God's elect. I just don't understand why petitioning the Father for His protection isn't enough.

An aside: my favorite personal example of the above is when a guy "prayed against the accident demons" that might beset those of us travelling that night. I'm sure it was meant with utmost sincerity, but I had to stifle a laugh.

I know I should probably blame Frank Peretti for some of this, but I'm wondering how far back it goes. I know that Luther allegedly made use of his flatulence to combat the wiles of Satan, but I'm not sure he ever did this in a corporate prayer ...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Back to Narnia

I'm continuing my re-read of the Chronicles of Narnia. Can't go wrong with that!

But I'm not too thrilled about the cover art for the more recent editions. If I didn't have my old edition of Prince Caspian, for example, I'd have to stare at this whenever I picked the book up. Shudder.

But that's nothing compared to some of the others, like this scary art for Magician's Nephew. What's up with that?
I've tried to ignore the "blog wars," since they seem mainly to indicate that otherwise intelligent people can still be jerks. But I was particularly struck by the following from James White's blog, in reference to a recent blog entry by Tim Enloe:

The link takes us to Douglas Wilson's blog, where a glaringly false dichotomy regarding living or dead faith (James 2) is presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner (which is the common theme on that blog, I've noted). Given Wilson's voluminous writings, he may well have produced a full exegesis of James 2 along the lines of the chapter I included in The God Who Justifies, but I have not found it.

There seems to be something odd about White mentioning "full exegesis" in reponse to an entry under the heading "Presbyterian Fables." What's next: a paper on the biological inaccuracies in the Tortoise and the Hare?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Gas Prices

I should've filled up my gas tank on Monday, instead of today. $.14 more per gallon. Sheesh. And all the cheap gas stations are at least 30 minutes from our apartment. It's not worth the savings to get there. Oh well, at least I know where to look to find places to stop when we're travelling.

(Thanks to Barb's blog for the website.)

To find your area, go here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Modern evangelicals do not see that apart from a true worship of God, the "horizontal pieties" are not long for this world. Their current emphasis on family and social responsibilities at the expense of honoring God in appropriate worship is doomed to failure. Of course, emphasis on cultural engagement and family reformation is wonderful in its rightful place, which is when it is subordinated to the reverent worship of God - through Word and sacrament. Any other emphasis is simply refried liberalism in the great taco of unbelief.

Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge

This quote, although true, isn't groundbreakingly profound or anything. I just liked the imagery in the last sentence.