Because life is a series of edits

Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Vacancy

In Nature on July 30, 2008 at 10:07 am

Vacancy

This is the second bug shell – intact except for the “exit hatch” out the back – that we’ve found around the house. The analogies are many, but I’ll save those for now; just thought it was cool.

Saying Thanks

In Family, Friends, Places, Places & Spaces on July 27, 2008 at 5:23 pm

As part of my Sabbath today, I wrote thank you notes all afternoon – to family who helped us buy and furnish our house; to friends who watched our kids and helped us move; to new neighbors who have been, well, pretty darn neighborly. In doing so, I realized I hadn’t really offered any thanks to you, dear readers, for your help in (or tolerance of) our online efforts this past month, so I’d like to do that now.

In response to the CD offer, we ended up with a total of $1,883.21 from 40 different people toward our closing costs. Granted, this amount was short of our initial $3,000 goal, but due to complications the week before we moved, our costs actually went down, so it wasn’t a big deal – we had what we needed. We were also able to write a campership check to Eagle Lake for $200, so that was good. To those who bought CDs and/or gave money to our effort, thank you.

Many of you left encouraging comments, sent supportive emails and letters, made enthusiastic phone calls, and generally served as cheerleaders in person throughout the process. Megan and I were both humbled by hearing from total strangers that they were praying for us. To those who shared your own hopes for ours, thank you.

Finally, most readers were patient and stuck with me despite my hijacking my own blog with the occasional inane whining about the home-buying process. To those who endured any especially selfish, narcissistic ranting (even more than my usual daily offering), thank you.

Chesterton said,

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

While I’m not sure about the elevation of a blogged thank you note, the double-wonder of the happiness of my gratitude is real. To any and all who motivated that in me, thank you.

PS: Be sure to check out Megan’s thoughts on the first two weeks – good ones, methinks.

Obama’s Rainbow Tour

In Politics on July 25, 2008 at 8:44 am

Barack Obama, who, as a “citizen,” recently addressed 200,000 Germans (and the world) from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, is the new (choose the best answer):

A) Ronald Reagan

B) Winston Churchill

C) John F. Kennedy

D) Eva Peron

I’m going with D. The buzz emanating from Obama’s trip reminds me of the chorus from “Rainbow Tour” (re-written here for effect) from the musical Evita:

“Let’s hear it for the Rainbow Tour 
It’s been an incredible success 
We weren’t quite sure, we had a few doubts
Would Obama win through? But the answer is yes”

Make no mistake: Obama is a rock star. Watching footage provided by his entourage (i.e. all major news network anchors), I couldn’t help but feel sorry for John McCain, who, in follow-up stories to Obama’s trip, seemed old and more out-of-touch with anyone under the age of 70 than I’ve seen him. What an image contrast, which – rather than international experience – is precisely what Obama is trying to highlight to the world in making his trip half-way around it.

Somebody in the Obama camp knows precisely what he or she is doing, positioning Obama as Churchill to McCain’s Parliament; as Kennedy to McCain’s Nixon; as Reagan to McCain’s Bush. But all the positioning in the world doesn’t work without a personality to position. Luckily for the Democrats, Obama – not Hillary Clinton – may turn out to be the real Eva Peron of the Party.

Review: The Dark Knight

In Humanity, Movies, Thought on July 24, 2008 at 9:08 am

As it’s rare for me to see a movie in the theater within a week of its opening, I thought I’d celebrate the occasion by posting some actual thoughts here on The Dark Knight. For the sake of not spoiling things, I’ll try to refrain from plot details and instead focus on some of the mental gymnastics it takes to follow the movie.

This is a very complex film – the most of any superhero movie to date. A lot of folks raved about the emotional depth of the Spider-Man movies, but The Dark Knight asks questions that go far beyond Peter Parker’s personal struggle in figuring out his responsibility to his power; as other reviewers have noted, The Dark Knight is a morality play that poses huge questions about the nature of humanity and asks the audience to share responsibility in answering them.

The dominant perspective is the Joker’s. While Heath Ledger’s performance is indeed intoxicating, what I think audiences are really responding to is Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker’s horrifying authenticity in living so consistently by his belief that anarchy is the only logical response to a world that does not make sense:

“Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don’t have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one. I just do things. I’m a wrench in the gears. I hate plans. Yours, theirs, everyone’s. Maroni has plans. Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are…Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It’s fair.”*

The exception to the chaos, of course, is Batman (Christian Bale), who, though flawed, manages to make choices that go against his human nature. Still, Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego) wants out of the Batman business, as it seems the cause of – rather than the solution to – the problem of freaks like the Joker coming out of the woodwork. Eventually, Wayne comes to understand (with the help of Alfred and others) that a flawed Batman is better than no Batman at all, but it takes some time (and a little melodrama at the end) to reach that conclusion:

“Bruce: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do? 
Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. He’ll hate you for it. But that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the righteous. 
Bruce: Well today I found out what Batman can’t do. He can’t endure this. Today you finally get to say ‘I told you so.’ 
Alfred: Today, sir, I don’t want to.”*

Serving as a composite of sorts of the Joker and Batman is Aaron Eckhart‘s Harvey Dent, Gotham City’s new District Attorney. Not much has been made of Eckhart’s role in the film, but his seems the key to understanding the movie, particularly at the end after he becomes the coin-flipping, fate-tempting Two-Face. Up to that point, Dent represents an unblemished hope of law and order for Gotham City citizens (“a white knight” of justice as opposed to Batman’s “dark knight” of vigilantism); however, between tragedy and timely coaching – both at the hands of the Joker – Dent resorts to playing the blame game with fate:

“You (Commissioner Gordon) thought we could be decent men in an indecent world. But you were wrong; the world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance.”*

In many ways (and without trying to overanalyze things too much), The Dark Knight looks at the world through three lenses: the anarchy of the Joker (frightening in its degradation); the fatalism of Two-Face (depressing in its meaninglessness); and the brokenness of Batman (frustrating in its reality). One of these is how most of us tend to live life, and The Dark Knight provides an intriguing look at where and how these paths diverge and – when played out to their logical extremes – eventually end up. The question left for the audience to answer is, of course, which to choose?

(*Quotes from Internet Movie Database)

Other observations:

  • Christopher Nolan‘s direction is seamless, well-paced, and engaging; you forget you’re watching a movie.
  • Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox are always easy to watch; they bring acting credibility and great presence to the big screen.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal is an improvement over Katie Holmes in the role of Rachel Dawes; the role itself, however, comes off more inspiring to the motivation of the romantically-involved characters (Wayne, Dent) than it really should be, which doesn’t ring as true as the rest of the film.
  • I don’t think it’s just because I’ve spent time there, but using Chicago as Gotham City was really distracting; Gotham City needs a darker, more New York kind of feel.
  • The lack of dependence on CGI for many of the action scenes and stunts was refreshing and made the movie more realistic; there was really only one scene (the extraction in Hong Kong) that I felt required too much suspension of belief.
  • Though I always liked (a lot) the arrangements of the original Batman movie soundtrack by Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer builds good suspense at just the right times; plus, I love the rich, bold sound of the trombones in his theme swells.
  • Overall the movie (2-1/2 hours) feels just a little long, but I’m not sure what I’d cut; it takes that kind of time to tell this kind of story.

For those who’ve seen it, what would you add/delete/change?

Things I Get/Don’t Get

In Pop Culture on July 21, 2008 at 10:26 pm
  • The buzz over Batman, I get./The buzz over Mamma Mia, I don’t get.
  • That I’m getting older and feeling it more, I get./That I’ve felt “barely able to walk” bad at 37, I don’t get.
  • The Cardinals hoping to get Chris Carpenter back, I get./The Cardinals hoping (still) to get Mark Mulder back, I don’t get.
  • That temperatures in July in the Midwest hit 98 degrees, I get./That people still talk about it and complain, I don’t get.
  • That school starts in less than a month, I get./That school starts in less than a month, I don’t get.

Top Ten Ways to Frighten the New Neighbors

In Family, Places, Places & Spaces on July 17, 2008 at 4:14 pm

10. Introduce yourself…with psychoses.

9. Spread out all your crap stuff across the backyard and explain that, just for fun, you’re re-creating the plane crash set from LOST.

8. Recruit high school students to help you move so everyone thinks you have 17 teenagers.

7. Ask if you can borrow a roll of toilet paper, and then ask if they want it back when you’re done.

6. Make friends with your neighbor’s dog(s), reminiscing about the dog you used to have until…well…something terrible happened.

5. Smile and wave. A lot.

4. Don’t smile and wave. At all.

3. Remark that you’re not sure exactly where your property line is, but really, what’s a few feet between neighbors?

2. Inquire as to the official neighborhood protocol for party parking.

1. Mention you keep a blog.

We’re in. More later.

Beauties and a Beast

In Family on July 14, 2008 at 2:00 am

Beauties and a Beast

Here's a shot from our short 24-hour stint at the farm this past weekend. Pictured above are the ladies with Bruce, a ten-year-old pureblood black lab whose owner thought Bruce needed more room to roam and some country air to breathe in these, the twilight of his years.

Slow and easy in the morning, crafts and shuffleboard in the afternoons, dinner at four and movie at dusk – Bruce is living the good life, complete with his own doggie-door into the garage and periodic visits from the grandkids to meet his monthly belly-scratching quota.

That's What Bruce Is Talkin' About

It's a dog's life (or at least this dog's life).

Taking a Break from Boxes Linkage

In Arts, Family, Movies, Musicians, Places, Places & Spaces, Pop Culture, Thought on July 11, 2008 at 10:59 am

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted some linkage, so in light of it being Friday, here you go:

We’re off to take a black lab named Bruce to his new home on the farm. Have a good weekend.

Over Halfway There: Update

In Family, Internet, Musicians on July 9, 2008 at 7:21 am

As Megan and I are six days away from closing on our house, several of you have asked about the latest on the Remember Not to Forget project. An update would seem in order. Currently:

  • The download page for the songs has had 116 visits.
  • We have $1167.49 in hand.
  • We are aware of at least another $350-400 on its way.
  • We can confidently say we’re halfway toward our goal of $3,000.

Though the $1,000+ jump since our last update is exciting, it hasn’t come through the kind of viral networking we’re still hoping for. While we had several hundred dollars’ worth of song purchases (thank you), we also had two major gifts ($500 and $250) that made up the bulk of the jump. This was great, but we think our idea still has yet to reach its full potential of taking over reaching the greater blogosphere.

That said, with some broad linkage (which still really hasn’t happened) and some good word of mouth about the songs and the difference ten little dollars can make here, we’re confident we’ll see what we need come in. But it needs to happen soon. Pray with us that it will (and, if you haven’t yet, buy the songs and link us up – check out KerriAshleyTim, and Jess for examples).

(Note: If you’re leery of recommending songs without hearing them or don’t have $10 to spare, go ahead and download them, listen, and (if you feel good doing so), link us up. I’d also love to post a review or two here (check out Ken’s brief comment), so if anyone has more time than money, download the songs, listen to and write about them, and send me your thoughts (and no, you don’t have to love – or even like – every song). I’ll post your review as is, I promise.)

Three easy ways to buy:

  1. For those who would like to pay online, go to Revolution MoneyExchange, log in, click “Send Money,” and enter my email address (cmdunham [@] gmail.com). (Note: If you don’t have an RME account, it’s a nice thing to have; just click below to sign up – it’s free – and we’ll also get a $10 referral fee.)
    Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
  2. For those who would prefer to pay by PayPal (sorry: non-credit, non-debit payments only), log in, click “Send Money,” and enter Megan’s email address (halfpinthouse [at] gmail.com).
  3. For those who would rather just send something, please make a check out to Craig Dunham and mail to 8827 Litzsinger Road, Brentwood, MO, 63144.

Some Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

In Books, Church, Theologians on July 8, 2008 at 2:00 am

When I was on staff with The Navigators, I used to joke that we in the organization thought of the Holy Spirit as being the member of the Trinity dressed in a three-piece suit sitting quietly in the corner of the boardroom. As a member of the PCA, I sometimes make the same joke (except now the Spirit’s sporting a bow-tie and tuxedo at Presbytery).

Lest my tongue-in-cheek critiques cause one to assume I know more of and about the Holy Spirit than others, rest assured I am as clueless as anyone – certainly with regard to the nuances of what we can know about the Spirit, but especially with regard to my experience of the Spirit.

I suppose I’m very much a product of my environment(s): I have always thought of the Spirit as the shy member of the Trinity Who seems too distant and overdressed for me to really get to know. This realization likely explains much of my poor and seemingly-powerless prayer life, as well as the lack of intimacy I often feel with God (and others) as a result.

Sinclair Ferguson alludes to this perceived (and probably widely-shared) reality in his excellent book, The Holy Spirit – part of the Contours of Christian Theology series:

“The expression ‘communion of the Holy Spirit’, if understood to include communion with him, further implies a bond of fellowship within a context of mutual knowledge. Here we come to a significant hiatus in discussions of the Spirit. It is commonplace to discuss the question of his divine personhood, his work in the application of redemption and in the fruit he produces, or the nature of his gifts and their role in the contemporary church; but communion with him in a developing knowledge of him is much less frequently explored.”

Ferguson’s focus on understanding the work of the Spirit from the perspective (and with the purpose) of being in union with Christ is both elementary and revolutionary to my thinking. Experiencing the Spirit not just as the bringer of gifts or as the sealer of salvation but as the co-crier of my soul is meaningful to me. With regard to Paul’s teaching on the idea in Romans 8:16-17 and Galatians 4:1-7, Ferguson writes:

“There is one cry, but that cry has two sources: the consciousness of the believer and the ministry of the Spirit…Just as no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), in a similar way no one can say, ‘Abba, Father’ except by the same Spirit.”

Mine is not a cry to the Father while a formally-attired Spirit quietly sits nearby; rather, as B.B. Warfield wrote, “Distinct in source, it is yet delivered confluently with the testimony of our own consciousness.” I have tended toward a “me or He” thinking (i.e. either I’m crying out or the Spirit is – probably because of His environs!), but it is actually “we.”

In addition to Ferguson’s wise teaching on the difference between revelation and inspiration (“Denial of divine experience is not necessary; only the interpretation of it.”), I very much appreciate his counsel concerning the debate on the gifts of the Spirit. I have always been a cautious continuationist rather than a strict cessationist; that is, I believe all the gifts of the Spirit are in play even after the closing of the canon of Scripture.

While many (mis)read 1 Corinthians 13:12, placing it in an epistemological rather than its true eschatological context, Ferguson warns of the abuses of extreme continuationism but does not knee-jerk into cessationism, refusing to go beyond what the Scriptures say (or don’t) on the matter. His mature example encourages me to both consider and follow the Person of the Spirit not as a cosmic, remote taskmaster, but as a personal, loving friend still at full work in the world…and in me to be and become a better servant of Christ.

Some Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

In Books, Church, Theologians on July 7, 2008 at 8:08 pm

When I was on staff with The Navigators, I used to joke that we in the organization thought of the Holy Spirit as being the member of the Trinity dressed in a three-piece suit sitting quietly in the corner of the boardroom. As a member of the PCA, I sometimes make the same joke (except now the Spirit’s sporting a bow-tie and tuxedo at Presbytery).

Lest my tongue-in-cheek critiques cause one to assume I know more of and about the Holy Spirit than others, rest assured I am as clueless as anyone – certainly with regard to the nuances of what we can know about the Spirit, but especially with regard to my experience of the Spirit.

I suppose I’m very much a product of my environment(s): I have always thought of the Spirit as the shy member of the Trinity Who seems too distant and overdressed for me to really get to know. This realization likely explains much of my poor and seemingly-powerless prayer life, as well as the lack of intimacy I often feel with God (and others) as a result.

Sinclair Ferguson alludes to this perceived (and probably widely-shared) reality in his excellent book, The Holy Spirit – part of the Contours of Christian Theology series:

“The expression ‘communion of the Holy Spirit’, if understood to include communion with him, further implies a bond of fellowship within a context of mutual knowledge. Here we come to a significant hiatus in discussions of the Spirit. It is commonplace to discuss the question of his divine personhood, his work in the application of redemption and in the fruit he produces, or the nature of his gifts and their role in the contemporary church; but communion with him in a developing knowledge of him is much less frequently explored.”

Ferguson’s focus on understanding the work of the Spirit from the perspective (and with the purpose) of being in union with Christ is both elementary and revolutionary to my thinking. Experiencing the Spirit not just as the bringer of gifts or as the sealer of salvation but as the co-crier of my soul is meaningful to me. With regard to Paul’s teaching on the idea in Romans 8:16-17 and Galatians 4:1-7, Ferguson writes:

“There is one cry, but that cry has two sources: the consciousness of the believer and the ministry of the Spirit…Just as no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), in a similar way no one can say, ‘Abba, Father’ except by the same Spirit.”

Mine is not a cry to the Father while a formally-attired Spirit quietly sits nearby; rather, as B.B. Warfield wrote, “Distinct in source, it is yet delivered confluently with the testimony of our own consciousness.” I have tended toward a “me or He” thinking (i.e. either I’m crying out or the Spirit is – probably because of His environs!), but it is actually “we.”

In addition to Ferguson’s wise teaching on the difference between revelation and inspiration (“Denial of divine experience is not necessary; only the interpretation of it.”), I very much appreciate his counsel concerning the debate on the gifts of the Spirit. I have always been a cautious continuationist rather than a strict cessationist; that is, I believe all the gifts of the Spirit are in play even after the closing of the canon of Scripture.

While many (mis)read 1 Corinthians 13:12, placing it in an epistemological rather than its true eschatological context, Ferguson warns of the abuses of extreme continuationism but does not knee-jerk into cessationism, refusing to go beyond what the Scriptures say (or don’t) on the matter. His mature example encourages me to both consider and follow the Person of the Spirit not as a cosmic, remote taskmaster, but as a personal, loving friend still at full work in the world…and in me to be and become a better servant of Christ.

In the Air Tonight

In Friends, Musicians, Pop Culture on July 6, 2008 at 8:45 am


Brian Rutland, my first drummer (no, he didn’t die the death of a Spinal Tap drummer) is now a pastor in Littleton, CO, and sent me this clip. We used to “cover” Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight” using lyrics I rewrote from more of an eschatological perspective (“I can feel Him coming in the air tonight” – yeah, it sounds hokey, but it so worked live). The kids (and Brian) would go nuts when he came in with the big drums, and guitarist Dan Madison and I rocked out with him for minutes on end. I laughed long and hard at this one.

It’s Hard to Soar Like an Eagle When You’re a Turkey

In Family, Holidays, Places & Spaces, Politics on July 5, 2008 at 7:59 am

In case you didn’t know, Founding Father (sounds like a band name) Ben Franklin thought the turkey should be our national bird instead of the eagle. (I first learned this when I was doing the show 1776 – I played Richard Henry Lee – back in 1990 at the Jacksonville Theatre Guild.)

Though Franklin argues his point with John Adams in the show, the actual documentation of his thought comes from a letter he wrote to his daughter 18 months after the Great Seal (featuring an eagle) was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782. An excerpt:

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

…For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America…He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

I’m with Franklin on this one, and I did my best imitation of said turkey – especially the “vain and silly” part – in response to my kids’ desire insatiable and bloodthirsty lust to find and watch a fireworks show – any fireworks show – last night. Megan and I were tired (I’d taken the girls for a two-hour hike around Powder Valley conservation area in the afternoon, and we’d just had a nice meal and three-hour visit with our friends, the Sargents, in the evening, which was a perfect lead-in to an early bedtime). Thus, I tried to appease the ladies with a few televised versions of all things pyrotechnic from New York and Boston.

This seemed to work for a while, until someone in the neighborhood had the gall to shoot off a few live rounds two blocks over.The sound, of course, lured the girls outdoors, but unfortunately for them (and me – remember, it’s all about me), they heard more than they saw, resulting in incessant begging and whining to go somewhere – anywhere – to see the fireworks. I knew then that any hope of ending the evening without conflict was over, as they’d already had their baths and Megan had already taken a catnap since we got home. Worse yet, Daddy was going to be the bad guy, and not even Will Smith would be able to save this Independence Day.

I know, I know: not only am I a terrible father, I am also a terrible American. I should be shot and hung and forced to watch C-Span. I get that. But I’m a turkey; I’m not an eagle. I don’t relish the whole let’s-blow-up-millions-of-dollars-worth-of-fireworks-to-prove-ourselves-a-great-nation mentality. It’s too flashy; it’s too easy. Sure, I love the music and the marches that go with them, but I would love those anyway. I don’t need fireworks to appreciate great music.

I didn’t wear red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July – not in protest, but because we’re packing and trying to settle into a neighborhood to make a long-term investment in a local community. I’m lucky to find a fresh pair of whitie-tighties these days, let alone something red, white, and blue.

I’m a turkey, I tell you; I’m not an eagle.

I don’t need to be front row at a Live on the Levee (or what’s left of it) concert or capitalize on any one of a jillion July 4th sales going on around the city to make the most of the holiday. Sure, we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but I seriously doubt Thomas Jefferson was thinking too specifically of over-done corporate sponsorships and blowout Fourth of July sales when he sat down to write King George to let us go.

I don’t want to fight traffic and attend some big July 4th event. Instead, I very much like the idea of walking around the neighborhood mid-morning, noticing the lack of traffic, and being grateful that most folks get a day off and can be home. Not only is the freedom to do something a great thing, but freedom to not do something is often even better, especially if you can do (or not do) it with those closest to you.

I’m a turkey, remember; I’m not an eagle.

Yes, I take pride in our country and am grateful for our freedoms (even when I wonder sometimes about what freedom protects). No, I’m not waiting for us to become a perfect nation to merit a “legitimate” celebration (though I recognize my idealist tendencies and how they can sometimes come across). And yes, we’ll make things up to the girls today when we (in good American fashion) buy their affections by taking them to a movie this morning (courtesy of Megan’s folks).

But I don’t know if I’ll ever change my turkey ways. I suppose you could cry fowl with regard to my thinking and tell me to hang it on my beak, but to do otherwise would just not be true to my inner bird.

Gobble, gobble.

Remember Not to Forget: Update

In Family, Holidays, Places, Places & Spaces on July 3, 2008 at 10:25 am

On Monday, I told you about my idea to offer 15 of my songs for $10 to raise the $3,000 Megan and I need to close on our house this month. Here’s an update on how things are going:

  • Good news: So far, we’ve received $286.24, which is almost 10%. Several folks have given (all cheerfully, as far as we know), with gifts ranging from $10 to $100, and it appears a handful have even chosen to download the songs. Thank you.
  • More good news: Our closing date has been moved up from the 18th to the 15th of July. That’s right: we move in 12 days, which is better for us all the way around…except for the fact that we have to write a check earlier than anticipated.

If we divide the remaining $2731.76 across the next 12 days, we need $228/day to come in by the 15th. If you still want to help, let’s just say sooner is better than later.

Three easy ways to buy:

  1. For those who would like to pay online, go to Revolution MoneyExchange, log in, click “Send Money,” and enter my email address (cmdunham [@] gmail.com). (Note: If you don’t have an RME account, it’s a nice thing to have; just click below to sign up – it’s free – and we’ll also get a $10 referral fee.)
    Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
  2. For those who would prefer to pay by PayPal (sorry: non-credit, non-debit payments only), log in, click “Send Money,” and enter Megan’s email address (halfpinthouse [at] gmail.com).
  3. For those who would rather just send something, please make a check out to Craig Dunham and mail to 8827 Litzsinger Road, Brentwood, MO, 63144.
One more thing that would be helpful is, if you have a blog, would you consider an endorsement and link? We haven’t had much of either of these, and word-of-mouth and scale would seem to be important in making this idea work. A big thanks to Tim and Kerry (and anyone else who linked to us that we don’t know about) for their linking efforts already.        

I’ll post another update on our progress sometime next week. In the meantime, thanks for considering our opportunity, and have a festive and freeedom-filled Fourth of July weekend.

Letters to Malcolm by C.S. Lewis

In Books, Writers on July 2, 2008 at 2:57 am

Despite his stated belief in purgatory (albeit somewhat qualified) and some interesting linguistic gymnastics on the topic of bodily resurrection, C.S. Lewis‘s last book (published post-humously), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, offers insight and comfort regarding the duty (and sometimes drudgery) of prayer. Some favorite quotes:

“We have long since agreed that if our prayers are granted at all they are granted from the foundation of the world. God and His acts are not in time. Intercourse between God and man occurs at particular moments for the man, but not for God. If there is – as the very concept of prayer presupposes – an adaptation between the free actions of men in prayer and the course of events, this adaptation is from the beginning inherent in the great single creative act. Our prayers are heard – don’t say ‘have been heard’ or you are putting God into time – not only before we make them but before we are made ourselves.” (p. 48)

“I have never met a book on prayer which was much use to people in our position. There are many little books of prayers…but you and I wouldn’t know what to do with them. It’s not words we lack! And there are books on prayer, but they nearly all have a strongly conventual background. Even the Imitation [of Christ by Thomas a Kempis] is sometimes, to an almost comic degree, ‘not addressed to my condition.’ The author assumes that you will want to be chatting in the kitchen when you ought to be in your cell. Our temptation is to be in our studies when we ought to be chatting in the kitchen. (Perhaps if our studies were as cold as those cells it would be different.)” (p. 62)

“It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that all is holy and ‘big with God’ will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment. But if these holy places, things, and days cease to remind us, if they obliterate our awareness that all ground is holy and every bush (could we but perceive it) a Burning Bush, then the hallows begin to do harm. Hence both the necessity, and the perennial danger, of ‘religion.'” (p. 75)

“An omission or disdain of petitionary prayer can sometimes, I think, spring not from superior sanctity but from a lack of faith and a consequent preference for levels where the question ‘Am I only doing things to myself?’ does not just out in such apparent crudity.” (p. 87)

“William Law remarks that people are merely ‘amusing themselves’ by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling. One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We – or at least I – shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have ‘tasted and seen.’ Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.” (p. 91)”

“The truth is, I haven’t any language weak enough to depict the weakness of my spiritual life. If I weakened it enough it would cease to be language at all. As when you try to turn the gas-ring a little lower still, and it merely goes out. Then again, by talking at this length about prayer at all, we seem to give it a much bigger place in our lives than, I’m afraid, it has. For while we talk about it, all the rest of our experience, which in reality crowds our prayer in to the margin or sometimes off the page altogether, is not mentioned. Hence, in the talk, an error of proportion which amounts to, though it was not intended for, a lie.” (p. 113)

“I have a notion that what seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling and contend with the greatest disinclination. For these, perhaps, being nearly all will, come from a deeper level than feeling. In feeling there is so much that is really not ours – so much that comes from weather and health or from the last book read. One thing seems certain. It is no good angling for the rich moments. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when He catches us, as it were, off our guard. Our preparations to receive Him sometimes have the opposite effect. Doesn’t Charles Williams say somewhere that ‘the altar must often be built in one place in order that the fire from heaven may descend somewhere else?'” (p. 117)

A kindred spirit (but an incomparable writer)…

Sign of the Apocalypse?

In Thought on July 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm

It’s the end of the world as some know it (here‘s the spin official press release from Starbucks).