Because life is a series of edits

Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

New Year’s Links

In Pop Culture on December 31, 2007 at 10:51 am

Not sure how you approach a new year, but here are some helpful/humorous links I found:

Hope you have a happy New Year, both tonight and for the next 365 days. See you in 2008.

Graceful Madeline

In Family, Young Ones on December 29, 2007 at 9:09 am

Is she really only 8?

Like the bicycle she rides, she is always on the move
Like the many things she tries, something else is always new
Like the song she loves to sing, is her heart You made to fly
Like a girl with angel’s wings, is my graceful Madeline

We now have a nine-year-old in the house. Happy birthday, Madeline Grace.

Booklist 2007

In Books on December 26, 2007 at 12:09 am

After hitting 59 in 2006 , my reading goal this year was 60 books, which I made (barely). September and October were hard because of school, but between the rugged required reading in June and some catch-up time in December, things worked out in the end. I’m shooting for 6 per month for a total of 72 in 2008, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve ranked each of the books on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) and added a comment or two of explanation, so pick yourself up a good book or two for the New Year. (Of course, if anyone’s looking for a post-Christmas present for little ol’ me, visit my Amazon Wish and Commentaries lists for ideas. No pressure.)

January (5)

  • The Professor and the Madman by Stephen Winchester – psycho prisoner contributes entries to the Oxford Dictionary; a little slow (6)
  • The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts – drink saffron oil, lose weight; whatever (1)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – powerful novel about everyday life in Afghanistan; now in theaters (8)
  • Handbook on the Prophets by Robert Chisholm, Jr. – good reference book on Old Testament prophets; helpful (7)
  • Cell by Stephen King – cell phones turn people into zombies; how is this fiction? (4)

February (5)

  • Beyond Identity by Dick Keyes – well-written book on who (and whose) we are; Keyes is a favorite (8)
  • Connecting by Paul Stanley and Bobby Clinton – book on mentoring from one of my mentors (Paul); a re-read (8)
  • William the Baptist by James M. Chaney – old-school book(let) advocating infant baptism; I’m still not convinced (6)
  • Maximizing Your Effectiveness by Aubrey Malphurs – leadership book with emphasis on gifts, personality; pretty basic (7)
  • Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts edited by I.M. Marshall – good text covering the acts of the apostles; Marshall is a stud (8)

March (5)

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – re-read for Wash U’s The Big Read; a classic (7)
  • The Pastor’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments by Brad Johnson and William Johnson – not the most fun read; helpful as a resource, though (8)
  • The Running Man by Stephen King – reads like a bad early 80’s movie – oh, wait a minute…; there’s a reason there’s not been a re-release (3)
  • The Healing Path by Dan Allender – great content, but can’t stand Allender’s over-writing; syrupy goodness (6)
  • The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes by Derek Kidner – small commentary on Wisdom literature; accessible and concise (8)

April (5)

  • Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter – more comprehensive than revolutionary in its analysis; nice to categorize my issues, though (7)
  • Intentional Disciplemaking by Ron Bennett – another friend’s book on leadership; good stuff on spiritual parenting (7)
  • Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce – hard to beat the Brucester on matters of the New Testament; love the succinctness of this British scholar (8)
  • Strategic Pastoral Counseling by David Benner – not the most interesting, but really good for what it is; should be on every pastor’s bookshelf (8)
  • Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) by Jaroslav Pelikan – analysis of original source material; hard to follow, but has its moments (6)

May (4)

  • The Story of Christianity, part 2 by Justo Gonzalez – good stuff on church history; Gonzalez is so readable (9)
  • On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas – more information than you might want on the history of Presbyterianism (7)
  • Readings in Christian Thought edited by Hugh T. Kerr – great compilation of original source excerpts from church fathers; some really powerful passages from the past (9)
  • Dreamcatcher by Stephen Kinging – friends fight aliens; see the movie to make the bi-polar alien thing work (5)

June (9)

  • The Person of Christ by Donald Macleod – best book I’ve read on the subject of Christology; probably my book of the year, theologically speaking (10)
  • Calvin and The Atonement by Robert Peterson – my professor’s published dissertation highlights Calvin on Christ; good to have on the shelf (8)
  • The Human Factor by Graham Greene – very 1970’s espionage novel; not bad (6)
  • The Cross of Christ by John Stott – if only Stott could be the face people think of when they think about evangelicalism; solid (8)
  • Why I Am Not a Calvinist by Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell – philosophy reigns surpreme (but is not convincing); nice try, though (7)
  • Why I Am Not an Arminian by Robert Peterson and Michael Williams – not as philosophically sexy, but more biblically-based; clear and concise (8)
  • Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema – hard to beat Hoekema (on anything); good Reformed Dutch guy on the atonement (8)
  • Adopted by God by Robert Peterson – okay book on biblical adoption (7)
  • The Brothers K by David James Duncan – powerful novel about baseball, family, and redemption; reads true on all accounts (9)

July (5)

  • Teacher Man by Frank McCourt – McCourt’s memoir of 30 years of teaching in New York; great writing about teaching high schoolers (9)
  • Moral Choices by Scott B. Rae – good basic primer/text on the history and systems of philosophy; makes sense of a lot of history you never knew you didn’t know (8)
  • The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn – teenage (melo)drama; yuck (2)
  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – evidentialist apologetics written in interview form; credible because of who he interviews (7)
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald – fantasy story from C.S. Lewis’ hero/inspiration; old school fairy tale (8)

August (6)

  • Doing Right by David Gill – the main text for my Biblical Ethics classes; practical look at the Ten Commandments and their implications (9)
  • The Roads That Built America by Dan McNichol – I’ve always been fascinated by our interstate system; some good retro pics of the process of getting it built (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – my second time around trying to get through Rowling’s books; the first one’s a good start (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – more of the same; okay, I guess (7)
  • Uncommon Decency by Richard J. Mouw – helpful book on relating to the world in a Christ-honoring way; civility = public politeness (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – number three is where I got bogged down the first time; felt the same sluggishness this time around (6)

September (0)

October (3)

  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers – holding nothing back, Sayers’ little book is a sassy dose of reality regarding the exclusivity of Christianity; she would never have made it in our politically correct age (9)
  • Losing Moses on the Freeway by Chris Hedges – an agnostic’s take on the Ten Commandments; some interesting ideas and stories that challenge the usual oversimplications (7)
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor – for a grace-filled handling of the topic, this is the one; a beautiful summary of biblical sexuality (9)

November (4)

  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell – Bell’s first book about rethinking church; chew the meat, spit out the bones (7)
  • J-Pod by Douglas Coupland – his characters are all the same and his plot lines go nowhere, but when it comes to cultural observation, Coupland’s the daddy; fun (8)
  • Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches edited by Robert Webber – the writing from the five contributors is really uneven, but Webber’s summary and perspective at the end is worth the cost of the book (7)
  • The Mist by Stephen King – first read this novella back in 1985 as part of King’s Skeleton Crew short story collection, but had to re-read it in light of the movie; such a scary story (8)

December (9)

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – Harry and company battle Voldemort; (long) variation on a familiar theme (7)
  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney – hadn’t read this since high school; had I had this translation then, I might have remembered more of it (8)
  • Living Legacy by Jim Downing – I so wanted to like this book about the founding of The Navigators, but the personalities got in the way; a tough read (4)
  • Teaching for Reconciliation by Ronald T. Habermas – a Reformed perspective on Christian education; really good stuff (9)
  • Christian Education edited by Michael J. Anthony – an amazing compendium of research-laden writing on educating from a biblical perspective; ran out of highlighters on this one (9)
  • A Dark, Oval Stone by Marsena Konkle – a woman’s husband dies at age 39, but life goes on for her; small first novel with some thoughtful marriage moments (8)
  • The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West – profound (and prolific) cultural analysis of an America that refuses to grow up; the implications are real, folks (10)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck – a classic fable of finding a pearl of great price; you just can’t go wrong with Steinbeck (8)
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 370 pages of good story before Pullman’s bizarre Bible revision takes us down a strange path; guessing books 2 and 3 pour on the heresy (8 for good writing)

Post your own pick(s) in the comments. What were your favorites of 2007 and why?

Ho, Ho, Hum

In Holidays on December 22, 2007 at 10:59 am

I’m not Scrooge incarnate, but let’s just say I’ve never been accused of being a jolly old elf around Christmas time. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the Reason for the Season; it’s just that when I look at all that goes on in the name of Christmas, it sure seems everyone else is. (I’m more of a Thanksgiving/Good Friday guy, but that’s irrelevant to this post.)

I’ve not begun my Chrismas shopping because I don’t do any. I don’t look forward to gift exchanges (White Elephant or real), because they bring out the worst in my kids and, as a result, the worst in me. I don’t proclaim the global “pretend day of peace” we turn Christmas into, especially when there are far too many people who experience no peace due to government corruption, economic disruption, and family dysfunction – gifts that, unfortunately, keep on giving the whole year ’round.

My perspective on the American version of Christmas is summed up in the words of Clark W. Griswold at the end of their Christmas misery in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “We’re going to have the happ-, happ-, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny ******* Kaye.” Translation: “It’s Christmas, we’ve made ourselves tired and miserable, and we’re going to celebrate, darn it.”

I hate to break it to you, dear readers, but I’m too much of an idealistic realist (or pessimist, if you’re the “eternal optimist” type) to drink the holiday Kool-Aid and hustle and bustle all over creation, “properly” observing (for that’s often only what we do – ask yourself what you’re actually celebrating) the birth of Jesus.

Instead, I tend to be quiet, try to keep my mouth shut (it’s hard), and endure all the hoopla until I can get a moment alone to confess my intense anger at how we’ve commercialized the true meaning of Christmas as just another reason I’m in need of it (the true meaning of Christmas, that is).

Maybe I am Scrooge, but at least I have a reason to need the holiday. This Christmas, in the midst of it all, I encourage you to ask yourself if you have one as well.

Merry Christmas (darn it).

(Note: In an effort to be a full-service blog, for those not feeling all warm and fuzzy after reading my post, read Garrison Keillor’s post on why he needs Christmas in Salon.)

Links to Grade By

In Pop Culture on December 19, 2007 at 9:50 am

I’m up to my eyeballs in papers and tests, so in case there are any other teachers out there facing a similar doom, here are some links to grade by:

And miles to grade before I sleep…

Final(s) Thoughts?

In Education on December 17, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Today was my last teaching day of the semester at Westminster, as the rest of the week consists of final exams and a whole lot of grading. I didn’t “teach” much today, but instead finished reviewing and just enjoyed hanging out with my students. It was a good day, and I realized how much I’m going to miss them over the break when finals end on Friday.

Personally, I don’t have many memories of high school final exams, largely because my high school didn’t require students with perfect attendance to take any. We could take exams if we “wanted,” but they could only help our grade and wouldn’t hurt it; thus, those who took them “for fun” rarely studied too hard and saw little increase of their grade or understanding.

Because colleges still gave final exams, my parents and I thought it might be a good idea to have some practice; unfortunately, however, I’m still not that great of a test-taker (or, more accurately, a preparer for them). Despite my alma mater’s stupid final exam policy (which they’ve thankfully since changed), it’s amazing I learned anything in high school.

Anyway, in order to give my students some perspective about high school finals (and seeing as I don’t have any of my own that might compare), might you offer a good story or word of wisdom from your own experience? If I get a couple, I may pull up the blog and start each testing period with a few thoughts from those who have been there and lived to tell about it.

How the Emerging Church Can Help the PCA

In Church on December 15, 2007 at 10:15 am

At the risk of overkill (and to bring closure – at least for now – to what ended up being this week’s topic du jour), I thought it might be interesting to consider some key contributions the emerging church movement might offer the PCA to make it more missional.

From my perspective, the biggest contribution would be the questioning of some church and denominational traditions, and how they do or do not aid in fostering a missional emphasis within our churches. In other words, I don’t think we enter into the emerging conversation primarily for what it could add to God’s Kingdom mission through the PCA, but rather to help us identify what we ourselves have added over time (often with the best intentions) that actually works against the gospel’s global mission to make disciples.

As Darrin Patrick observed, I agree that the emerging church can help the PCA in three ways:

  1. engaging in conversations about important issues that are not just ones of theology or technique
  2. bringing attention back to missional contextualization, as well as to justice and mercy initiatives
  3. redefining (perhaps “updating” is a better word) community and authentic relationships within the church

On the flip side, I agree with Patrick that his list of emerging church negatives – deconstruction without reconstruction, emphasizing the Incarnation to the neglect of the Exaltation, focusing on God’s World more than God’s Word, or marketing of the emerging church – would not serve the PCA. True to our name, we need to always be reforming, but I question whether the more extreme conversations within the emerging church are as much about that as about re-doing altogether.

The choice of church paradigm is certainly important, but the content of church paradigm is the most important decision of all. In other words, the journey matters, but so does the destination. I’m all for emerging as a church, as long as we’re emerging into the body and bride of Christ as he defines it, not as we do.

(As a very practical example of what I’m talking about, here‘s a piece from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch about how emerging churches are bringing to light legalism within another denomination, “taking one for the team” in the process of trying to live out a biblical – not Baptist – worldview.)

Eleven Years Today

In Family on December 14, 2007 at 2:00 am

Yeah, It's MeThis may not stay up long after Megan sees it, but here's a fun pic of the girl I've been married to for the past 11 years. No, this isn't how she argues; it's just how she is (and I'm glad).

Happy anniversary, M.

Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches

In Books, Church on December 12, 2007 at 2:54 pm

As there’s been some good discussion in response to my previous post on Rob Bell, I thought I’d offer another resource for those interested in some further reading on the emerging church. Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches is a quick read that includes contributions and responses from emerging leaders Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, and Karen Ward. The book was edited by recently deceased Robert Webber.

In reading Webber’s book, it’s difficult to do a better job summarizing the general perspectives held by the five contributors (I thought Webber’s summary chapter was great). Without going into huge detail (and while I’m not sure how fully accurate it is), here’s my attempt at trying to identify a few of the major differences – simply divided along the lines of theology and praxis – among the group of the leaders studied:

  • Driscoll – theology is universal, timeless, biblical; praxis can change
  • Burke – theology is universal, timeless, incarnational; praxis can change
  • Kimball – theology is local, temporary, missional; praxis will change
  • Pagitt – theology is local, temporary, embodied; praxis must change
  • Ward – theology is local, temporary, communal; praxis is change

From my perspective (and it is purely subjective based only on what I read – I’ve not spent much time studying any of them in detail) – Driscoll and Burke seemed most conservative and aligned among the participants; in many ways, the difference between Driscoll’s “biblical” and Burke’s “incarnational” theology is a bit of a false dichotomy, as both men would probably affirm the importance of each, though each may be more a focus for one than the other.

Kimball seemed the easiest influenced by those around him (theological peer pressure?), coming off as the most impartial in what he advocated, as well as the most open to what others did, particularly if and when it lined up with his value of mystery. This may be a huge oversimplification, though, as someone with his hair has to have some convictions that go beyond just being neutral.

Of the group, Pagitt seemed most “dangerous” to me in terms of where his “temporary” theology could end up. He seemed to have a clear idea of where he wants to go in dismantling Christendom, and possesses the skills to make a case for it. Pagitt’s contributions were the ones I marked up the most for further thought and study.

Being the Reformed boy I am, I personally resonated with Driscoll’s thoughts. However, while I appreciate Driscoll and was grateful for the strong Reformed stand he took in Webber’s book, I do wonder if he (and those associated with him) suffer needlessly because of things he says and how he says them that lend themselves to so easily being taken out of context (google Mark Driscoll quotes and you’ll see what I mean). The thought running through my head is how much better of a spokeman for the Reformed end of the emerging attractional church Darrin Patrick might be, but that’s neither here nor there.

I had the most difficult time understanding where Ward was coming from, partially because her ideas seemed hardest to grasp in the way they were presented, and partially because I felt more of a cultural gap between her ministry environment and mine. Of all the contributors, she seemed the most “gimmicky” in terms of content, and I felt she was all over the map in what she was trying to say about “little theologies” and the like.

In inviting each contributor to evaluate my church (Memorial Presbyterian here in St. Louis), my best guess at their responses to what we’re doing would be as follows:

  • Driscoll would resonate with our Reformed theology and potential to change (though he would get frustrated by how little and slow change occurs);
  • Burke would resonate with our desire to have a ministry of presence in the community (though he would wonder how wide and deep that desire goes);
  • Kimball would resonate with the missional aspect of our interaction with the arts community (though he would marvel at how anal we’ve been in getting there)
  • Pagitt would resonate with the reality of us having non-believers in our midst (though he would wonder how genuine a joy some members have concerning it)
  • Ward would resonate with our Sunday morning community (though she would wonder why it doesn’t manifest itself more organically/often during the week)

All this said, and with regard to my reading of the book, I agree with Webber’s conclusion that,

“What is happening among emerging leaders is a desire to return ministry to the story of the triune God from which the story derives. So the question we should be asking the emerging church is not, ‘Is your theology straight?’ but ‘Where will your current practices of ministry take you theologically?’” (201)

In other words (and as I said earlier), with regard to the emerging church, the key question is not “What are you emerging from?” but “What are you emerging to?” I think there is good methodological cause for change in answer to the first question, but I find the need for extreme theological revision underwhelming in answer to the second.

Again, thoughts?

Emerging Evangelicalism?

In Church, Theologians, Writers on December 10, 2007 at 10:26 pm

Rob Bell was featured in Time last week, causing somewhat of a stir among the evangelical faithful that perhaps an heir apparent to the fading Billy Graham is emerging. Bell, of course, is used to “emerging” – he’s founding pastor of Mars Hill Church (which I think I visited once back in the mid-90’s but can’t remember) in Grand Rapids, as well as part of a movement known as the “emerging church” or the “emerging conversation”.

I recently took a weekend class on all this, and one of the most helpful things the speaker (Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey here in St. Louis and member of the Acts 29 Network) did was identify three predominant streams within the emerging movement. (If you’re interested in any of this, you can hear the same opening session I did here.)

According to Patrick, Bell floats on the “emerging conversational stream,” which is “mainly after theological revision by challenging evangelical theology.” Patrick’s other two streams are “emerging attractional,” which is mainly after methodological revision,” and “emerging incarnational,” which is “mainly after structural revision” (think ‘house church’ here).

Patrick’s filling in of the proverbial “lineup cards” was helpful, as I was able to mentally organize some of the names I knew were in the conversation. Regardless of what you call it (or which stream you prefer to float on – I’d be an “emerging attractional” guy myself), the ultimate question is not what the “emergent church” is emerging from, but what is it emerging to?

This is where Bell’s latest press becomes interesting. I’ve not read Sex God, but I have recently read Velvet Elvis. While I know Bell is a dynamic speaker and communicator, I have not heard him speak, and this was the first writing of his I’ve read. I appreciated his tone in presenting his thoughts and ideas, as his writing voice is one of gentle passion and reasonable zeal. I liked the combination.

However, this attractive combination – whether intentionally or unintentionally – provides cover for some ideas that, though sounding good, are more problematic than Bell’s tone implies. It’s not that all of what he writes seems wrong; it’s just not all of it seems right.

I think the biggest problematic area involves Bell’s theology of what and for whom Jesus’ atonement was. In many ways, Bell comes off as a universalist when he states that, “…this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God’. All things, everywhere.” (146) Graham has been accused of similar universalist tendencies as well.

Without more qualification (and written in his gracious tone), Bell’s conclusion that, “Heaven is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for” and “Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for” (146) implies a soteriology having more do with us choosing well and less to do with a Sovereign God’s limited (but completely saving) atonement as taught per the Scriptures (and clarified by the Reformed systematic).

Another area of concern is Bell’s leveling of the authority of “binding and loosing.” In the course of a couple short paragraphs, Bell explains how in ancient times, “…a rabbi would bind certain practices and loose other practices,” and then give his disciples the authority to do the same. He goes on to explain that Jesus followed suit with his disciples, and how we can do the same today (that is, “giving his followers the authority to make new interpretations of the Bible,” and “somehow God in heaven will be involved.” (50)

The authority Jesus gave the disciples he gave to the apostles (that is, to the twelve), and this authority does not automatically pass down to followers of Christ today, as it was an apostolic responsibility ending with the apostles and the closing of the canon of Scripture, rather than a license to reinterpret Scripture’s meaning over and over through time. I believe there was one meaning intended by the apostles, and it is our goal as disciples coming after them to affirm and adhere to it.

While these (and perhaps a few other smaller) areas were problematic for me, I did think Bell had some good things to say about a variety of things, particularly the unfortunate continuation of the sacred/secular split (85), the significance of the Sabbath (117-118), and true counter-cultural living (163). I wouldn’t say I trust all of his theological insights, but in terms of common sense observation, I think he makes some good points.

Anybody got thoughts on this?

JPod Quotes

In Books, Writers on December 10, 2007 at 2:00 am

Three favorite quotes (among others) from various characters in Douglas Coupland's JPod:

  • "You can't fake creativity, competence, or sexual arousal."
  • "After a week of intense googling, we've started to burn out knowing the answer to everything. God must feel that way all the time. I think people in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of feeling clueless."
  • "It turns out that only twenty percent of human beings have a sense of irony – which means that eighty percent of the world takes everything at face value. I can't imagine anything worse than that. Okay, maybe I can, but imagine reading the morning newspaper and believing it all to be true on some level."

His storylines go nowhere and his characters are all the same, but when it comes to cultural observation wrapped in irony and realism, there's nobody better. I love Douglas Coupland.

Links for a Frigid Friday

In Pop Culture on December 7, 2007 at 6:50 am

I was hoping that, due to freezing rain and sleet last night, we’d have a snow day today. Alas, as of 5:50 a.m., it doesn’t appear to be. So, here are some links for a frigid Friday:

Owen on the Non-Efficiency of the Bible

In Books, Theologians on December 6, 2007 at 10:03 am

Puritan John Owen on why God didn’t just “give us a list” of everything we need to know that we could use more easily than the “non-efficient” nature of the Bible:

“Such a systematical proposal of doctrines, truths, or articles of faith, as some require, would not have answered the great ends of the Scripture itself. All that can be supposed of benefit thereby is only that it would lead us more easily into a methodical comprehension of the truths so proposed; but this we may attain, and not be rendered one jot more like unto God thereby.

The principal end of the Scriptures is of another nature. It is, to beget in the minds of men faith, fear, obedience, and reverence of God – to make them holy and righteous…Unto this end every truth is disposed of in the Scripture as it ought to be. If any expect that the Scripture should be written with respect unto opinions, notions, and speculations, to render men skillful and cunning in them, able to talk and dispute…they are mistaken.

It is given to make us humble, holy, wise in spiritual things; to direct us in our duties, to relieve us in our temptations, to comfort us under troubles, to make us to love God and live unto him. Unto this end there is a more glorious power and efficacy in one epistle, one psalm, one chapter, than in all the writings of men…He that hath not experience hereof is a stranger unto the power of God in the Scripture…sometimes an occasional passage in a story, a word or expressions, shall contribute more to excite faith and love in our souls than a volume of learned disputations.”

Now Up at byFaith

In Politics, Writing on December 3, 2007 at 1:27 am


I wasn’t sure if they were going to post it online or not (the actual issue has been out for almost two months now), but my byFaith article (written in July) on the political views of twenty- and thirty-somethings in the PCA is finally up on byFaith’s newly-redesigned site. Check it out and leave a comment (there or here) as to what you think.

The other writing news is today (tonight, really), Megan and I present the fruits of our labors from the 3-month, 400-hour How Kids Think research project we’ve been working on all fall. We’ve invested literally all weekend together – writing/designing a 26-page report, detailing our findings, and periodically checking to make sure our kids know we still love them. We think we’ve succeeded at all three tasks, but only barely.

I so wish I could post the report for all to see. Megan has done a fantastic job researching and writing most of it (I’ve served more as project director/editor/graphic designer/it-will-be-alright-er), but as the data technically belongs to God’s World Publications, that’s probably not okay.

If you think of us between now and tonight, pray all would go well as we meet with publisher Nick Eicher, founder Joel Belz, C.F.O. Kevin Martin, and creative director Rich Bishop to make our recommendations and pretend we know what we’re talking about.


In Sports on December 1, 2007 at 2:00 am

My college roommate at Mizzou and TwentySomeone co-author, Doug Serven, blogged his thoughts concerning the big Missouri/Oklahoma game this weekend. Doug is an R.U.F. campus pastor at OU, so he feels some loyalty tension, but as his feelings about Missouri football are mine (and as his blog doesn't have permalinks – come on, Serven!), I'm posting them here.

I have struggled over what to write about the Missouri Tigers. They are the number one football team in the nation. This happened last in 1960, and they promptly lost that game to hated KU. I don't even like typing those letters in a row.

So it's huge. I've suffered through almost 20 years of personally caring about Mizzou. The football team was 3-8 all four of my years there. I saw most if not all of the homes games in person. I was taught to have extremely low expectations.

They continued this trend through the nineties, except for a brief bright spot with Corby Jones at quarterback and Larry Smith as coach. I remember Julie and I went to homecoming while we were in seminary, and Mizzou was playing Texas. That seemed like a stupid choice to me, and I was prepared for another loss. But they won! I couldn't believe it. They went to a bowl game that year, and it had been a long time. I think they lost.

Brad Smith was supposed to be the next big deal. He was really, really good, but then we'd lose to KU in the last game and tank out in a bowl. I couldn't watch anymore. I think this season is the first time I've watched a whole game from start to finish. It was just too painful.

So there hasn't been much to cheer about. I went to the OU game here, and I felt conflicted. I have grown to appreciate and enjoy the Sooners. I like to cheer for a team that wins sometimes, and they win often. It hurt me when they lost to LSU and USC in those championship games. So I stood there and was confused. But, as Mizzou had the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, I knew I wanted them to win.

And they lost. It ended up not even to be that close, since Mizzou scored in the last minute to close the gap to 10 points. But I was glad OU won. They had a chance to play for another championship. Until they pooed down their leg in Lubbock (another game I attended).

So now: is Mizzou the best team in the nation? I doubt it. But someone has to be there, and no one else has held it or seems to want it. So it might as well be the Tigers. OU fans are spoiled to be sure. But I'm rooting for MU; if they win they will play for a national championship! If they lose, I'm sure I'll hear about it.

But remember this: it isn't Texas; it's Mizzou. They aren't your natural rivals. Be happy for them if they win. After all, they're your second favorite team.

Go Tigers.