Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Agree or disagree, this is one amazing reading list
. I hope I can one day make my way through it all.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
This was the hurricane report for Alabama early this morning.
Yikes. I'm off to the grocery store before church for a few last minute necessities. Like bread and bananas. I love bananas.
Say a prayer for our safety. Things could get rough.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Oh, sweet. Another hurricane.
Go to this site
for information on human rights abuses in Iran. I don't know how much I can do about the situation sitting here in Tuscaloosa but I can't emphasize how important it is that Iran become an open society. It's important for the security of America, Israel and the rest of the mid-Asian region. It's important to avoid increased nuclear standoffs with India and Pakistan. And perhaps most importantly it's important for the people of Iran to live in peace and freedom, without fear of retribution from religious fanatics who would imprison and subjugate the population of Iran for their own ends.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The idea of "conservative Christianity" has been around for a while. It's always taken on the notion of Christians who happen to be conservative. For a long time there was never a strong correlation between evangelical Christianity and traditional conservatism; the basic media template suggested that Christians were conservative only on matters of "values" like abortion and gay rights. Nowadays you hear a lot of talk about a Judeo-Christian worldview, but I've always thought that sounded a lot like tradition conservative thought. Well, lo and behold, while reading the back cover to Russell Kirk's seminal The Conservative Mind
, I noted this blurb from the syndicated columnist William Rusher:
"[In] this enormously influential book [Kirk] almost single-handedly rooted American conservatism in the right loam of the ancient Judeo-Christian tradition, and thereby gave it the philosophical heft of a worldview. He also gave it its name... [This] country owes a huge amount of gratitude to Russell Kirk."
Interesting, no? I'd be curious to hear what left-leaning Christians like Jim Wallis have to say about the intellectual suggestion that traditional conservatism is, in fact, a de facto Christian ethic.
Sitting in class yesterday, I noticed an open copy of the campus newspaper. There was an ad on the page promoting the "Contemporary Worship" service at an old church downtown. When I say old, I mean that the congregation has been there for well over a hundred years. It's an established church in an old South town, and that brings certain baggage - both good and bad - with it. At any rate, the church began a contemporary service a while back. The service, incidentally, takes place during the same time as "regular" worship, but it's completely separate. The church runs commercials on local television and as I just mentioned, there's advertisements in the campus newspaper and around the town.
My question in all of this is "why?" The advertisements might be fine for new students in town or even new families looking for a more contemporary setting within this denomination. But what about nonChristians? What about them? I'm not talking about nominal Christians raised in church who've wandered off the farm. I'm talking about those people - college students, young adults, even families - who don't attend church, don't put a lot of stock in Christian beliefs and just don't care. Their unbelief might stretch beyond apathy and into the area of antagonism. So why in the world would they care about Christianity masked in upbeat acoustic music? I'm pretty sure they wouldn't. I've never met an atheist over the age of fifteen whose opinion of Christ hinged upon the instruments used in church. Maybe this is a matter of straining at a gnat. I just think that this idea that non-Christians are going to accept Christ on the basis of a worship service's outward appearance is flawed. People will come to Christ based upon relationship, not cultural relevance.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Oh, it's been too long. There's a lot going on with me personally - all of it good - and there's a fair amount going on in the rest of the world. I started graduate school at the
University of Alabama yesterday. While I'll be busy, I think the increased workload will actually keep me motivated to work hard at keeping this blog busy. I'll also try my best to stay active at Stones Cry Out
, a great group blog.
I'm starting to read Dominion
by Matthew Scully, so if I start harping about animal rights, that's why. I won't get carried away, but I'll probably rant a bit. What else is new?
Pat Robertson's comments about Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez were more than inappropriate. They were downright foolish. I'm glad Robertson followed Al Mohler's advice
and apologized. The whole situation is embarrassing, chiefly because it manages to drag the name of Christ through the mud. From a secondary standpoint, though, I fear that a lot of people will ignore Chavez, who is an absolutely brutal tyrant. He is not an ally of democracy, freedom and human rights.
We hit up the local farmer's market the other day. I haven't used my squash yet; I hope it doesn't go bad. I did manage to buy some organic goat's milk soap. It's nice stuff. Smells great, doesn't cost much and it's all natural. Here's a funny thing about organic food. When explaining why I opt for the organics, a response you often recieve is someone exclaiming, "Why, that's the way we used to eat vegetables growing up!" I always want to respond, "Yeah, and they tasted a lot better back then, didn't they?"
I saw this article at Focus on the Family
the other day. Read it and then read this rejoinder by Michael Spencer
. Here's Michael's money quote:
Focus On The Family is to be commended for its constant efforts to help families with children. There are many good resources linked from this site that encourage the positive involvements of fathers in the lives of their children. Information about the effects of distant and conflicted parents is very helpful. The information in this list, however, leaves me with the impression that the evangelical war on homosexuality is sometimes manifested by looking at our own children with very biased and fearful eyes.
I know Focus on the Family meant well, but that list is one that is easily manipulated. I'd like to think that such a well-respected (and deservedly so) organization would be a bit more thoughtful. A tearful eight-year-old does not a homosexual make, particularly in a world of rabid baseball leagues and he-man warriors. I say that with all due respect to sports, because I played baseball for years. I think sports are a great thing and it's certainly good to see young boys fighting and wrestling, but if a kid doesn't, it does not mean he's gay. What a silly thing to promulgate. Now, if said eight year old has a serious Cher fascination and is always wanting to redesign the curtains in the living room, you might have an issue. Otherwise, I don't know that it's something to worry about. Then again I'm not a parent, so who knows.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Wow. This leaves me speechless
, and yes, it sends me to my knees in prayer.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Here's some real-time data about an amazing spot of creation in East Alabama
.This video about organic produce
is funny and thoughtful.
I'm home with my parents in Mississippi for the weekend. I'm sure I'll be blogging more later.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I've done a pretty good job of avoiding commercialism and simultaneously developing a Bonhoffer-inspirted sense of detachment to belongings, but this collection is at the top of my Christmas list.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Dear Taco Casa,
Oh, I love you.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I am so lazy. I just won't be able to finish the books I've been trying to read. I never got past the fourth chapter of Fr. Neuhaus' Death on a Friday Afternoon
or Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
. I meant to, but life called. So I shall return the books to the library. Ah, well. I'll probably buy them soon enough. Whatever my disagreements with Neuhaus's views of Mary and justification, it's a book worth having in the library and Ishiguro is an absolute master.
In his blog this morning
, Al Mohler had this to say:
"Before closing the door on this issue, however, we should note that what we need now is what I call an "animal respect" movement that avoids the grotesque excesses of the animal rights movement but does demonstrate a truly Christian concern about the respect we owe animals as creatures made for God's glory. I'm working on an essay on that theme to be released soon."
Animals rights does not and should not supercede the defense of the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the oppressed and the manipulation of embryos and genetic material. Yet I return to my belief, and it is encouraging to see Dr. Mohler's agreement, that the compassion of Christ must be extended, in one sense or another, to all living creatures. Humans first, but our call to dominion is not and cannot be a call to indulgence and abuse. I'm excited to read Dr. Mohler's essay. I hope it is a fair treatment of the subject.
One of my favorite pundits has a quote on a Starbucks cup. Read his interview here
. Be aware that I agree with this interview 110%.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Ah, Saturday. No work and no worries. My agenda today? Buy a few magazines and go to the thrift store. It's lovely. I woke up hungry and craving coffee, so I drove to Target. I hate that there is no good local place for me to go, but I like bagels and coffee so there we go. Too bad Starbucks' espresso machine is down. The coffee isn't awful, though, and Einstein Brothers makes a mean bagel.
If I were in Birmingham this morning, I would be at this farmer's market
buying peaches and a watermelon. I'd buy a fresh baguette and another cup of coffee. Maybe even flowers, but probably not for myself. It's a great market, full of lots of interesting things and people. But, woe, I am in Tuscaloosa. I can busy myself here, buying groceries and maybe even cooking.
I'm still reading a lot, understanding God's power and love and my own humility. What a wonderful dichotomy is our faith, with equal attention given to brokenness and to power and might. Our own brokenness is made correct by God's power and love and mercy. And it's only in light of God's power that I begin to understand my own depravity and broken nature, and thus begin, however slowly, to grasp the awesome love of our Lord. That is such sweet comfort.
How much can I do without? How much of my own comforts and luxuries can I give up, not in some self-righteous sense of ascetecism, but in the awareness of suffering around the world, and learning to do without so that some of what I have can go to help others. This is a recurring question in my own mind, and it's one I just can't seem to shake. I don't believe the answers are the same for everyone; I won't stoop to legalism. Yet I'm increasingly conscious of the fact that I can't live my life as I please - buying and selling at my own leisure - without at least some regard for how it affects other people. Surely Christ has called me to more than that.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Sign me up.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Friends of this site who are also fans of Over the Rhine (you know who you are), should read this letter from the band to their fan
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Here's an interesting post at the BHT
from Annie Crawford
. This is the interesting quote, wherein referring to a Christian text on dinosaurs she writes:
"Wondering if I am again unknowingly duped by something widely known as foolish."
I wonder about that all the time when I read apologists and Christian thinkers. I wonder if Francis Schaeffer and Ravi Zacharias and Nancy Pearcey are really all they're cracked up to be. I think Ravi is ok most days, but as for the other two, sometimes I don't know. I read Pearcey's comments on popular culture and I'm often left with a big "so what?" Isn't Pink Floyd and Igmar Bergman's existentialism a symptom and not a cause?
Am I wrong? I'm not sure. Probably. I usually am wrong about this sort of thing, but I wonder why the writings of folks like these have recieved such little attention outside the evengelical world. Surely it can't all be chalked up to anti-evangelical bias. I'm not sure who I would regard as a good cultural critic in the Catholic world, because it seems like the best culture critics are always classical music and opera nerds. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But why is it that Protestants have such hangups with rock and roll and movies?
Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a Christian bookstore with my family. After walking around for a minute, the bookstore turned into an outdoors store. I remember being very annoyed that I could not find any John Piper
books, and the outdoor area did not sell Patagonia
clothes and gear.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Ah, home. I'm back in Dixie after a week-long romp through the hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Regular writing will resume soon enough (tonight?), but some of my initial thoughts on my trip can be viewed below.
"I saw Gettysburg today. How poingnant a place it is, to think that tens of thousands died on the fields between those two ridges. Both sides fought with valor and integrity, but I am so greatful that - by God's providence - the Union was saved. Today we saw the central Pennsylvania countryside. It's a beautiful place, full of flowers and produce and simplicty."
August 1, 2005
"It was a simple place; open fields, rock fence walls and rows of corn. It's beautiful, the kind of place that a man might look at as a place for raising a family. and yet thousands of men died along antietem creek as two armies decided our nation's fate. It has indeed been a providential existence for the United States."
August 2, 2005
"Jazz really is the quintessential American music with its rhythym and movement and verve. It resonates in the harbor at sunset, the soundtrack to sidewalks, sailboats and cigar smoke.
Annapolis is a great town, old and inviting. I can walk cobblestone streets for hours, the same streets laid by colonits and patriots. The Chesapeakse Bay is wide and spectacular. What an expanse it leads to the ocean. The Naval Academy is inspiring as a place where brave men and women begin to walk a path of valor. Eternal Father, Strong to Save..."
August 4, 2005