Monday, August 31, 2009

August Reading List

51. Mounting Fears (ua), by Stuart Woods
52. Generation Dead (hc), by Dan Waters
53. 52 (ua), by Greg Cox
54. Traditions of the Ancients (pb), by Marcia Ford
55. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of the American Church (hc), by Matthew Avery Sutton
56. Magician's Gambit (ua), by David Eddings
57 What Would MacGyver Do? (ua), by Brendan Vaughan, editor

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, by Matthew Avery Sutton.

One thing that biographers must avoid is taking a side in presenting their subject, falling into either of the equally troubling traps of defending or criticizing. Professor Sutton avoids these temptations, and has produced an intriguing look at the equally intriguing evangelist, who dominated the cultural landscape in the USA during the first half of the twentieth century.

Despite the 50 pages of endnotes that give this work the appearance of being an academic tone, this is in fact an accessible and readable work. Sutton covers the high points of Sister Aimee's biography -- farm girl, missionary, widow, founding the Foursquare denomination, the still-mysterious kidnapping, the quick marriage and divorce, her social activism -- and puts these events in the context of a post-Darwinian America, where traditional Christianity was on the ropes.

Sutton portrays McPherson's many contradicions with keen insight. His fair and balanced work portays a woman who constantly defied gender norms and religious expectations, while advocating a biblically-based and culturally-engaged evangelicalism.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Anselm on the Prayer Closet

Good advice from a man who lived more than 9 centuries ago:

"Enter into the inner chamber of your mind. Shut out all things save God and whatever may aid you in seeking God; and having barred the door of your chamber, seek Him."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Looking Back

This passage, from Marcia Ford's Traditions of the Ancients, resonates strongly with me in terms of my interest in the Ancient/Future practices of the church.
"We're so sure of what it means to be Christian - how we're supposed to behave and how we're supposed to worship - that we rarely venture out of our spiritual comfort zones. The beauty of the early church, by contrast, lies in the very fact that there was no comfort zone, no carefully crafted formula for living out the Christian life.

No one had come along yet to tell believers that they should "dress nice" for the 11:00 a.m. service on Sunday. In fact, no one bothered to tell the desert dwellers that they should bathe once in a while; it would have done no good, because they considered bathing to be sinfully self-centered.

No one had told them yet that they needed to schedule a daily quiet time and spend fifteen minutes each morning at their devotions, nor had they been told that they should create an ongoing praryer list. For many, the whole of their interior life was their "quiet time," and they saw every moment of their lives as their devotional time as unceasing praryer to God."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Seven Petitions to the Holy Cross

An ancient Anglo-Saxon prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
For the sake of Thy holy Cross, be with me to shield me. Amen.
By the memory of Thy blessed Cross, be within me to strengthen me. Amen.
For Thy holy Cross, be ever round me to protect me. Amen.
For Thy glorious Cross, go before me to direct my steps. Amen.
For Thy adorable Cross, come Thou after me to guard me. Amen.
For Thy Cross, worthy of all praise, overshadow me to bless me. Amen.
For Thy noble Cross, be Thou in me to lead me to Thy kingdom. Amen.