Friday, December 31, 2010

December reading list

65. Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem
66. Worship Old & New (hc), by Robert E. Webber
67. The Cheater (ua), by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
68. Penses (pb), by Blaise Pascal
69. Imager's Intrigue (ua), by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
70. Sand Sharks (ua), by Margaret Maron
71. Painted Ladies (ua), by Robert B. Parker
72. Guild of the Cowry Catchers, Book 2 (ua), by Abigail Hilton
73. Holy Bible, various translations

Friday, December 10, 2010

reason & passions

From Pascal's Pensees #621:
Civil war in man between passions and reason.
If there were only reason without passions.
If there were only passions without reason.
But since he has both he cannot be free from war, for he can only be at peace with the one if he is at war with the other.
Thus he is always torn by inner divisions and contradictions.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

November reading list

59. The Big Short (ua), by Michael Lewis
60. NurtureShock (ua), by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
61. First Family (ua), by David Baldacci
62. Ironside (pb), by Holly Black
63. Kisser (ua), by Stuart Woods
64. Ford County (ua), by John Grisham

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pascal on Jesus' Teachings

Pensees 369:

"Jesus said great things so simply that he seems not to have thought about them at all, and yet so clearly that it is obvious how much he thought about them. Such clarity together with implicity is wonderful."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October reading list

53. Crocodile Tears (ua), by Anthony Horowitz
54. Left Behind: The Kids #16 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins & Time LaHaye
55. Left Behind: The Kids #17 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins & Time LaHaye
56. Left Behind: The Kids #18 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins & Time LaHaye
57. Imager's Challenge (ua), by L. A. Modessitt, Jr
58. Infinite Playlists (pb), by Todd Stocker

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NT Wright on the Future Hope

From Surprised by Hope:

"What I am proposing is that the New Testament image of the future hope of the whole cosmos, grounded in the resurrection of Jesus, gives as coherent a picture as we ned or could have of the future that is promised to the whole world, a future in which, under the sovereign and wise rule of the creator God, devay and death will be done away, and a new creation born to which the present one will stand as a mother to child ... What creation needs is not abondonment on the one hand, nor evolution on the other, but redemption and renewal; and this is both promised and guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is what the whole world is waiting for."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pascal on Man's Corruption

from Pensees 446:

"If there were no obscurity man would not feel his corruption: if there were no light man could not hope for a cure. Thus it is not only right but useful for us that God should be partly concealed and partly revealed, since it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness as to know his wretchedness without knowing God."

Friday, October 08, 2010

N.T. Wright on the Church

The church is first and foremost a community, a collection of people who belong to one another because they belong to God, the God we know through Jesus. Though we often use the word “church” to denote a building, the point is that it’s the building where the community meets. True, buildings can and do carry memories, and when people have been praying and worshipping and mourning and celebrating in a particular building for many years the building itself may come to speak powerfully of God’s welcoming presence. But it is the people that matter.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

on the theology of signs

From Robert E Webber's Worship Old & New:

"Protestants are the weakest in the third area of communication, the language of symbols. We have capitulated to the Enlightenment penchant for scientific objectivity, for obervation and proof, for cerebral communication. This has resulted in a loss of our ability to express feelings and intuition symbolically."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Reading List

48. Goth Girl Rising (hc), by Barry Lyga
49. Imager (ua), by L. A. Modessitt, Jr
50. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo (ua), by Steig Larrson
51. Left Behind: The Kids #14 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins & Time LaHaye
52. Left Behind: The Kids #15 (pb), by Jerry B. Jenkins & Time LaHaye

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pascal on Man's True Good

from Penses 148:

"God alone is man's true good, and since man abandoned him, it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place: stars, sky, earth, elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, war, plague, famine, vice, adultery. Since losing his true good, man is capable of seeing it in anything, even his own destruction, although it is so contrary at once to God, to reason, and to nature."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Favorite. Band. Ever.

In 1990, the self-titled debut album Iona was released in the US. I had heard one song (Dancing on the Wall) on the local Christian radio station, and thought it was it was a cool sounding song. There were sounds in there that I had never heard before, from the Celtic harp to the Uillean pipes.

But it was an aritcle in CCM Magazine that stoked my intrigue about this band. In this article, Irish singer Joanne Hogg talked about the story behind the concept album. That first album focused on the history of the island of Iona, and the critical role the early Celtic saints Columba & Cuthbert played in preserving. This was revelatory stuff for me, not raissed in the church, and then brought into the evangelical movement, which tends to not care much about church history. By the time their second album came out, based on the ancient illuminated manuscript, The Book of Kells, I was hooked forever.

I am convinced that the reason I am so interested in church history and the ancient-future movement is because of Iona. The stories that they told in their songs captured my imagination, and showed me what a blind spot I had toward the stories of the forebears of my faith.

I drove 2+ hours to see Iona play in 1997, one of the highlights of my concert-going experiences. The pure musicianship that I saw stunned me. The 5 members of the band played more than a dozen separate instruments, all with skill and passion that put other bands to shame. They spent the next 13 years NOT touring in the US.

In the years since, my wife and daughter have become big fans of the band, as well, and we bought their Live in London concert DVD a few years ago. In a music class in probably 9th grade, my daughter did a report on the band.

We were planning on attending the 2010 Cornerstone Festival, and when I went to order the tickets in early December, I scanned the band list and saw that Iona was playing, and my jaw dropped. I showed my wife, and her jaw dropped. I printed that page and wrapped it with the tickets under the Christmas tree, that my daughter opened up. When she saw who was playing, her jaw dropped.

We couldn't wait.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Reading List

38. Ghosts of Manhattan (pb), by George Mann
39. U is For Undertow (ua), by Sue Grafton
40. Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders (pb), by Mark W. McGinnis
41. Enemies & Allies (ua), by Kevin J. Anderson
42. Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels (ua), by Mindy Starns Clark
43. Par For the Course (pb), by Roy Blackston
44. Temple of the Winds (ua), by Terry Goodkind
45. Amy Inspired (pb), by Bethany Pierce
46. Good Omens (ua), by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
47. Outcast of Redwall (ua), by Brian Jacques

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Review

Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This debut novel fits firmly in the genre of light Christian fantasy. There are dragons, battles, a beautiful princess, more than one prince, fairies and mystical animals. The Christian content appears in the form of a spiritual allegory in the novel's climax -- there are no direct religious references in the text.

The plot is well-paced, and the balance between action and romance is nicely balanced. I enjoyed the book overall, although it seemed that a few of the characters and one bit of intrigue from early in the novel disappeared late in the novel. There seemed to be a few threads that were dropped.

Although the book leaves room for additional books in a series, this novel does tell a complete stand-alone story. I tend to prefer my fantasy novels less sterilized and tame, but those works are few and far between in the Christian marketplace. But for a lighter, less intense novel, this book does its job well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 Review (#6)

Day 2.

After another good night's sleep, we arrived at teh festival grounds in the middle of the morning. My wife had a series of seminars that she was intersted in, so my daughter and I left her to do that and we wandered.

The first place we found was the used books tent, and we each spent a few dollars. We were still close enough to the entrance of the fest that we returned to our car to drop off some of these books -- no need to carry the extra weight around all day.

Then, she and I made pur ways back to the generator stages. We did not have anything scheduled until 1 PM, but we decided to hear what tent was playing music we wanted to listen to, and we found Witness7, a hard rock outfit with a nice groove, one of the most serendipitous moments of the week. When they finished up, we stayed for another loud group, So Long Forgotten.

One of the great things about the generator stages is the multiple performances that bands are able to make. We had planned to see Don't Wake Aislin later in the week, but saw that they were playing at 12:40, so we found that tent. What a thoroughly engaging band, with a driving sound, interesting lyrics, and a social conscience.

The whole family hooked up for a late lunch, and then we set up at Luminate and Ilia.

I wandered back to spend a few more hours at the generators, and heard Ascend the Hill, Sean Michael and Reilly. Reilly was another great discovery, and dual-violin rock band who just put on such a great show. Their sound is certainly unique, and the live show was a treat to see.

We all met up for the evening at the Gallery Stage, which is a large tent with row of chairs(!) up front and tables in the back. We were here for the evening, so we grabbed food and headed over there.

The evening started with another great Cornserstone discovery, Shel, and 4-piece sister act from Colorado who played with much skill and passion. They were followed by the blues of the Glenn Kaiser Band -- for those who don't know, Glenn is a Cornerstone legend, leading the JPUSA church and fronting Rez Band for all those years. They were followed by The Lost Dogs, which started as a side project for a bunch of front-men in the nineties but has turned into a solid act since then.

And then came Iona.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 Review (#5)

Day 1.

Breakfast at the hotel was not great, but got the job done -- cereals, danish, and we each snagged a piece of fruit for later consumption.

We arrived at the campground with no drama, got our wristbands, and found our place to park. We each had a backpack (book, snacks, water) and our chair. Our schedules didn't have any music planned until 1:15, so we had a few hours to "get the lay of the land" and figure out where all the stages were in relation to each other, and to the food court, the restrooms, the merch tent, etc ...

We decided to stay together this first day, although we knew later in the week we would be going 2 (maybe 3) directions at once for parts of the day. We wandered to the generator stages, and found a rocking outfit (Alive Through Love) playing loudly, and settled in for a few songs, and then another band (The Skies Revolt) in the same venue.

Then the day bogged down a bit. We were planning on seeing 5 straight shows from 2PM - 7PM at one particular tent, but scheduling issues and miscommunications brought us some down time -- and we learned that 2 of our anticipated acts were not going to perform :0(

Once the bands started playing, there was some good music to be had -- Thunder School, Focal Irish Worship, Rhona Kelly, and the Wayside.

Then on to one we were totally looking forward to, my daughter's new favorite band, a female-led rock act called the Letter Black. We had bougt their CD beforehand and had jammed out on the road to their songs, but we know that sometimes an act is not quite the same in concert as they are in the studio. But these guy rocked it out, and even my wife could understand the lyrics (a big deal for her). My daughter bought a poster, had the lead singer sign it, and we were set to the headline show for the night.

is probably my wife's favorite band, and boy did they put on a show at the main stage. They told great stories, played all the hits, even my favorite the under-rated "Awakening." Just a great rock show, high energy, high quality, high entertainment.

There were a few bands we were vaguely interesting in playing later that night, but we decided they could not top the double-feature of The Letter Black and Switchfoot. So we called it a day.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 Review (#4)

Day 0.

A few of the generator stages started up on Monday the 28th, but that was our travel day -- since we were paying for a hotel, we figured Monday was a light day of music that we could afford to miss.

The trip itself was very much fun -- we had a great music playlist (Switchfoot, Iona, House of Heroes, Skillet, the Letter Black, the Wrecking, Don't Wake Aislin) and a good family-friendly audiobook to listen to (A Penny For Your Thoughts, by Mindy Starns Clark). And all of us in the family (me, wife, college sophomore daughter) like each other, which makes a road trip all the more enjoyable.

Our road-trip car had been in and out of the shop the week before, and I was not convinced that it would make it all the way to Illinois without an issue, at least without annoyance. But the car perofrmed well, and I was extremely grateful to the Lord and the Ohio mechanics for that.

We realized that we would be eating "fair food" for the next week, so decided to eat "real food" on Monday -- that meant salads and beef for lunch, and salads and beef for dinner in Macomb, Il. The hotel seemed fine, and despite a little drama of my daughter leaving her purse at the restaurant (we retieved it safe and sound), the first day went extremely well.

It was an "early to bed" night -- the last one for a while.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 Review (#3)

So we had our tickets, we knew Iona was playing, as well as Switchfoot and a few other acts that had us excited. But I got antsy as the time passed and the Cornerstone website had not presented an official schedule by the start of May.

I cheated and checked the websites of the acts we were interested in, and got from their websites the day & times of their Cornerstone shows: Switchfoot at 8PM on Tuesday, Iona at 11:30 PM on Wednesday. So the band schedule began to take shape (taking a nap on Wed became essential, as some of us in the family are older than we used to be), but the control-freak in me wanted to see the whole schedule.

And then in early June a new link showed up on the site -- the official Cornerstone schedule maker. This was a revelation. The site listed all the acts (and seminars), and you could click on the acts you wanted to see, and a schedule would be produced, so you could work around the conflicts. Cornerstone has more acts and stages than any festival I've been to, and part of the experience is dealing with the scheduling conflicts that are bound to happen.

Most of the spots on the schedule creator linked to music clips from the bands, which introduced me to a number of acts that I previously did not know, but whose music was great and who we put right on the schedule -- Don't Wake Aislin, the Letter Black, the Wrecking, Sent by Ravens, and Men as Trees Walking. I bought a number of these act's songs from iTunes, to help build the playlist for the road trip.

So we hit the road with high anticipation.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July Reading List

34. Surprised By Hope (pb), by N.T. Wright
35. My Life With the Saints (hc), by James Martin, SJ
36. Empire of Ivory (ua), by Naomi Novik
37. A Cat on a Jingle Bell Rock (ua), by Lydia Adamson

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 Review (#2)

Prologue #2

By the end of last year, we had firmed our Summer plans, and Cornerstone 2010 was included. I went ahead and made the hotel reservation (we are NOT campers, and I understand how that limits the true "festival experience") and bought the tickets.

Even though it was not a "surprise" to anyone that we were going, I decided to put the tickets under the Christmas tree as a family present. So I went to the Cornerstone website to print out the list of confirmed bands -- and was stoked to see that our family's favorite band, the Irish band Iona, would be playing! I saw Iona on their last US tour -- in 1997! That's thirteen years ago.

My daughter (18 yo) opened the present, and scanned the band list, and then her jaw dropped. And then she danced. And we all had a huge family hug! We were going to attend Cornerstone 2010 anyway, we had already made that choice, but our favorite band was going to be there. Icing on the cake.

So the stage was set -- we were all psyched.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cornerstone 2010 review (#1)


Since I became a Christian more than 25 years ago, the Christian music scene has always bene important to me. I have been to probably 10+ Christian music fests over the years, from Fishnet to Creation to Alive to Inner Seeds. But the grand-daddy of them all, Cornerstone, was always beyond me reach. Grographically, it was a challenge for me, and I admit I may have been a bit intimidated by the counter-culture vibe of the event. But as I matured and outgrew much of the standard evangelical culture, Cornerstone became progessively more intriguing to me.

I dipped my toes in the Cornerstone waters when they put out a mini-festival on the East Coast in the early 2000s. But it was not the "real" Cornerstone.

My family moved about 500 miles West, bringining western Illinois within a day's drive. I went to the real Cornerstone 2007 by myself, to "check it out" for the family and get a vibe for the place. It was wonderful, and it helped crystallize my thoughts on the "ancient future" movement, and give a context (and a label) to my feelings on the value of the early church and their practices. And of coruse, the music was great, too, including the reunion shows by Bloodgood and WhiteCross, and shows by the Violet Burning and Roe vs. Pritzl.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pascal on our wretchedness

Penses 192: "Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happiness vs. Joy

From Walter Wangerin, Jr.:

"The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can't stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Reading List

29. Guild of the Cowry Catchers, Book 1 (ua), by Abigail Hilton
30. Called out of Darkness (ua), by Anne Rice
31. Heartless (pb), by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
32. The Swan Thieves (ua), by Elizabeth Kostova
33. Penny For Your Thoughts (ua), by Mindy Starns Clark

Friday, June 25, 2010

On seeing God

From a homily of St. Gregory of Nyssa:
The happiness God promises certainly knows no limits. When one has gained such a blessing, what is left to desire?

In seeing God, one possess all things. In the language of Scripture, to see is to have. "May you see the good things of Jerusalem" is the same as "May you possess the good things of Jerusalem."

One who has seen God has in the act of seeing gained all that is counted good: life without end, everlasting freedom from decay, undying happiness, a kingdom that has no end, lasting joy, true light, a voice to sing pleasingly in the spirit, unapproachable glory, perpetual rejoicing. In a word, the totality of blessing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

From The Stowe Missal

An ancient prayer book from about the year 800:

You are God, one and immortal;
You are God, incorruptible and unmoving;
You are God, invisible and faithful;
You are God, wonderful and worthy of praise;
You are God, strong and worthy of honour;
You are God, most high and magnificent;
You are God, living and true;

We believer you, we bless you, we adore you;
ANd we praise your name forever more.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review

Giving Church Another Chance, by Todd Hunter.

Todd Hunter has had a varied and intriguing career in the ministry. He was a leader in the early days of the Vineyard movement, including a stint as National Director. He then lead Alpha USA for a time, before pulling out of the formal curch altogether and becoming involved in the "home church" movement. He then turned around another 180 degrees, and is a newly-ordained bishop of the Anglican Mission in America.

Hunter brings much of this interesting spiritual biography to bear in this, his second book. His focus is on the historical liturgical practices of the church, encouraging evangelicals to re-consider how to adopt these practices.

The book covers a range of topics, including quiet time, reading scripture, giving, communion and blessings. He brings an interesting take to these topics, relying the works of Eugene Peterson and N.T. Wright, among others.

I heard Hunter speak years ago, when he was a Vineyard pastor, and was quite impressed. I have followed him as his pilgrimage has taken him around the church, and was intrigued when he joined the Anglican community. My own move into the ancient-future church ideas has not been as dramatic as Hunter's, but I found this book an intersting and thought-provoking treatise on integrating the ancient practices of the church into a modern life.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

On the two natures

From St. Leo the Great

"To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that is incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God & Men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature and unable to die in the other.

He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature, we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning and took to himself in order to restore it."

Monday, May 31, 2010

May reading list

24. The Professional (ua), by Robert B. Parker
25. A Twisted Faith (hc), by Gregg Olsen
26. Archangel:Legion (ua), by Scott Roche
27. Giving Church Another Chance (hc), by Todd Hunter
28. The Scarpetta Factor (ua), by Patricia Cornwell

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scot McKnight on Living the Bible

God did not give the Bible so we could master him or it; God gave the Bible so we could live it, so we could be mastered by it. The moment we think we have mastered it, we have failed to be readers of the Bible."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More from Blaise Pascal

From Penses #131:

"There are in faith two equally constant truths. One is that man in the state of his creation, or in the state of grace, is exalted above the whole of nature, made like unto God and sharing in his divinity. The other is that in the state of corruption and sin he has fallen from that first state and has become like the beasts. The two propositions are equally firm and certain ... whence it is clearly evident that man thhrough grace is made like unto God and shares his divinity, and without grace he is treated like the beasts of the field."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St. Hilary on the Trinity

from a treatise:
Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only begotten Son, and in the gift which is the Spirit.

There is one creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; through him all things exist. And there is one Sprit, the gift who is in all.

So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: One power, which brings all things into being; One son, through whom all things come to be; and one gift of perfect hope.

Nothing is wanting to this flawless union. In Trinity, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Defending the Trinity

Many of the great heresies that have faced the church have come from different understandings (misunderstandings) of the doctrine of the Trinity. Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology lists the three core components of the trinitarian belief. They are in tension, they don't "make sense" to our human mind, but deviating from any of these three core components leads us astray:

1. God exists eternally as three persons.
2. Each person is fully God.
3. There is one God.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

From St. Maximus of Turin

From a sermon:

Christ is risen.

He has burst open the gates of Hell and let the dead go free. He has renewed the earth through the members of his Body, born again and baptized, and has made it blossom afresh with man brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of Heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from earth. Because of Christ’s resurrection, the thief ascends to Paradise, the bodies of the blessed enter the holy city, and the bodies of the dead are restored to the company of the living.

Christ is risen.

His rising brings life to the dead, forgiveness to sinners, and Glory to the saints.

Friday, April 30, 2010

April reading list

20. Reliving the Passion (hc), by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
21. Madman (pb), by Tracy Groot
22. Dexter by Design (ua), by Jeff Lindsay
23. The Law of Nines (ua), by Terry Goodkind

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review

Mother of God, by Miri Rubin.

Rubin, a history professor from England, presents an extremely well-research and detailed "history" of the Virgin Mary. In reality, it is a history of the Christian era of human history, using the Catholic Church as its focus, using the portayal of the Blessed Virgin as the narrative thread.

Rubin reviews (extensively) nearly 2 millennia of art, poetry, and songs of Mary, explaining how specific portrayals relate to a particular cultural view of the Virgin. She also covers theological and political developments as they relate to the Catholic Church and Mary's role in it.

The volume of notes at the end of the book place it firmly in the cAtegory of "academic," but is also manages to be a very readable and intersting work.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More From Blaise Pascal

Penses #121:
It is dangerous to explain too clearly to man how like he is to the animals without pointing out his greatness. It is also dangerous to make too much of his greatness without his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both, but it is most valuable to represent both to him.

Man must not be allowed to believe that he is equal either to animals or to angels, nor to be unaware of either, but he must know both.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Podcast Review

The Bible Study Podcast

Note that there are many podcasts in iTunes with similar names -- this review is for the weekly podcast hosted by Chris Christensen and produced for Mevio.

This is a nice, bite-size podcast, that runs 10-12 minutes per weekly episode, covering a topic or book of the Bible in 10 to 20 episodes. After series on "The Church is Called to be" and "The Bible on Leadership," Chris is currently working his way through Acts, after covering Luke's Gospel.

The theology espoused in this podcst is standard and orthodox, a "safe" presentation of biblical truths for Christian believers of all stripes.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

From The Carmina Gadelica

a collection of Celtic psalms, hymns, & poetry, gathered by Alexander Carmichael more than 100 years ago.

May God shield you on every steep,
May Christ aid you on every path,
May Spirit fill you on every slope,
On hill and on plain.

May the King shield you in the valleys,
May Christ aid you on the mountains,
May Spirit bathe you on the slopes,
Inhollow, on hill, on plain,
Mountain, valley and plain.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Reading List

13. The Whole Five Feet (hc), by Christopher R. Beha
14. The Lost Symbol (ua), by Dan Brown
15. Watching the Watchmen (hc), by Dave Gibbons, Chip Kidd, & Mike Essl
16. The Best Game Ever (ua), by Mark Bowden
17. Green (ua), by Ted Dekker
18. Hothouse Orchid (ua), by Stuart Woods
19. Scott Pilgrim, vol. 1-3 (gn), by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interpreting the Bible

From Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem's Big Picture guidelines for helping interpret passages of Scripture:

1. It's a historical document
2. The authors wanted the readers to respond in one way
3. The whole Bible is about God
4. The center of the whole Bible is Jesus Christ
5. Salvation history is the core story of the Bible

Friday, March 19, 2010

From Blaise Pascal

Penses #45:

"Man is nothing but a subject full of natural error that cannot be eradicated except through grace. Nothing shows him the truth, everything deceives him. The two principles of truth, reason and senses, are not only both not genuine, but are engaged in mutual deception ... they both compete in lies and deception."

Thursday, March 11, 2010


From a devotion by James H. Kurt:

"To them, it is our duty to call. To darkness, we must bring light, and realize too the fate of Jesus, who will die on the cross for his work, to bring salvation to the world. It is this same cross to which we are all called, for it is by this same cross we have been called. And those who are yet to be gathered in must hear our voice. Let us stand with the Lord and gather in His grain despite the stiffened necks we might find."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Book Review

A Brief History of Theology, by Derek Johnston.

This is an excellent 300-page survey of 2000 years of Christian theooogy. In sixteen chapters, Johnston covers the early church (Sts. Paul & Augustine), the middle ages (Aquinas), the reformation (Luther, Ignatius, Calvin) and the last century (Barth, Rahner, Brueggermann). Each of these theologians are analyzed in their social and cultural settings, and their life and teachings are appraised in these contexts.

The book is not always an easy read -- because the ideas of these theologians do not always lend themselves to an easy read. But it is indeed a worthwhile overview of the broad theological landscape.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Reading List

7. Hunter's Moon (pb), by Don Hoesel
8. Frankenstein: Dead And Alive (ua), by Dean Koontz
9. Juliet, Naked (ua), by Nick Hornby
10. The Mother of God (hc), by Miri Rubin
11. The Buck Stops Here (ua), by Mindy Starns Clark
12. The Downhill Lie (ua), by Carl Hiaasen

Monday, February 22, 2010

Podcast Review

Build the Church

In the couple of years that I have been listening to podcasts, I have run across a few pretty good music shows, but none are as consistently entertaining -- nor as prolific -- as Build the Church.

This show just celebrated its four hundredth (yes, 400!) episode. Mark does a fine job scouring podsafe music networks for terrific Christian songs. He consistently introduces me to great independent musicians, including JJ Heller, Sonia V, Stephanie, Hoi, and Trade Cities.

The occassional video podcasts that drop into the feed are also nice surprises.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Poem of Confession

From a 9th century Welsh poem:
Grant me tears, O Lord, to blot out my sins;
may I not cease from tears, O Lord, until I have been purified.
May my heart be burned by the fire of redemption.
Grant me contrition of heart so that I may not be in disgrace.
O Lord, protect me and grant me tears.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

2010 Thoughts

I try to not make resolutions and plans right at January 1 -- that's just too predictable. Actually, I think that's too much pressure, and I prefer to get a feel for the shape of the year before making plans.

So here at the plans/hopes/goals/dreams for the remaining 90% or os of the year:

Read Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.
Continue staying up-to-date with the Daily Audio Bible.
Attend Cornerstone Festival with my family.
Attend academic conference in Dallas.
Attend ACFW conference in the Fall in Indianapolis, with a completed manuscript -- either Identity or A Hero Over His Head.
Visit family in Richmond
Visit family in North Carolina
Get podcast survey project "live" and collect data.
Analyze survey data.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Book Review

Hunter's Moon, by Don Hoesel

Don Hoesel's first novel, last year's Elisha's Bones, was a workmanlike effort in a genre that has been overworked in the CBA marketplace, that of the search for the supernatural artifact. It was a fine, albeit standard, thriller.

His second work, the upcoming Hunter's Moon, shows a great leap in craft. This is a much subtler novel, more akin to a mainstream literary work than the standard fare offered in the Christian publishing world. I am encouraged that Bethany House has taken the steps to publish a novel that does not fit the standard CBA mold in terms of its setting, plot, and overall feel, and hope that its publication will lead other houses to expand their offerings.

Not to say that the world that Hoesel paints is altogether unique. The main character, CJ Baxter, is a successful author from a politically-connected family with secrets to hide. Both of these worlds, of the author and of the politician, are well-worn, but Hoesel exercises a deft touch in weaving these disparate worlds together. He delivers to us a taut family drama, a story of a man coming to terms with his own failings and the consequences of his own actions.

Hunter's Moon moves at a nice pace, slowly building up tension that finally comes to a head in an exciting extended scene that covers the book's final 6 to 7 chapters. The spiritual aspects of the novel are also woven in subtly and without distraction, an accomplishment that many Christian authors would do to learn from.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Reading List

1. The Path of Celtic Prayer (hc), by Calvin Miller
2. Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements for Teens (pb), by Marc Campbell
3. Purgatory (ua), by Tim Dodge
4. A Quarter for a Kiss (ua), by Mindy Starns Clark
5. Power Through Prayer (pb), by E. M. Bounds
6. The Language of Bees (ua), by Laurie R. King

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sola Scriptura?

I appreciate the sentiment of Sola Scriptura, that we will base our theology totally on the Bible, and on nothing else. It sounds good, it's a nice slogan in a debate. I suppose it even makes a bit of sense, but it's not realistic.

None of us are Sola Scriptura believers.

We are all believers in Scriptura-plus. Plus our pastor, or plus our denomination, or plus how we were raised, or plus Beth Moore, or plus Oswald Chambers, or plus TULIP, or plus the Wesleyan Quadrangle, or plus Augustine, or plus The Shack, or plus Left Behind, or plus the Creation Museum. Even if we would check the "Sola Scriptura" box, most of us really aren't, way deep down.

But don't misunderstand. I think this is a good thing. When we enter into relationship with Christ, we don't need to begin with a blank slate. We jump into the middle of a great story, join a "great cloud of witnesses," who have wrestled over the hard issues, maybe 18 or 19 centuries ago. What a font of wisdom we have to tap into. We should not cut ourselves off from this great resource.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On keeping regular devotion

A Welsh poem:

God shall not
refuse or reject
whoever strives to praise Him
at the beginning and end
of the day.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Book Review

The Path of Celtic prayer, by Calvin Miller

In this thin book, Miller describes 5 specific types of Celtic prayer, and encourages us to make these ancient practices part of our regular prayer routine.

Miller cites numerous examples of these types of prayer, both in our Celtic heritage and other parts of our Christian past. Examples of the five types of prayer -- trinity prayer, scripture prayer, long wandering prayer, nature prayer, lorica prayer, and confessional prayer -- are described and explained, and each chapter gives the reader the chance to compose their own prayers along the lines of those described.

The book is custom-made for someone like me, interested both in the ancient-future movement and Celtic Christianity. This is an excellent volums for anyone else interested in this subject matter.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 Reading Summary

I have been keeping track of my annual reading for about 5 years now (thank you, LibraryThing). In 2009, I read 80 books. This is down from 110 last year, and around 140-150 the years before that. This is because I listen to an absolute ton of podcasts. I have always been a fan of audio, and 48 of the 80 books I read this year were via unabridged audio.

The 58 novels I read break down as follows: (note that the total exceeds 58, as many books fit into more than one category)
Fantasy/SF -- 34
Thriller/Adventure -- 13
YA -- 13
Mystery -- 10
Christian -- 8

The 22 non-fiction works I read break down as follows:
Christian/Theology -- 10
Business/Technology -- 4
Reading and Writing -- 4
TV/Entertainment -- 3
Biography -- 1