2. Chad Bresson ably counters what I would call the contemplative obsession with silence. Yes, God speaks in a still small voice, but the important thing is that He speaks, He is there and He is not silent. True, maybe contemplatives our simply asking us to shut up and slow down so we can hear His voice, and there's a bit of truth in that.
The idea is simply postmodern fantasy. Into the silence, the WORD spoke all things into existence. When He was done, the Sabbath had been created so that man could find his rest in God, a rest marked by the communion of walking and "talking" with God in the cool of the garden. And once man fell, an enscripturated form of that WORD became necessary. In fact, if silence is what we want, destruction is what we will get. Man depends on God's speech, God's language, for his soul's survival. God's language has been embodied in His Son and embedded in an inspired and inerrant text. We don't want God to be silent if we are to ultimately find that Rest. Our sin is such, we can't have God be silent, for if he is silent all is lost.
Vos was surely ahead of his time (though what comes around goes around) when he wrote: "To the Christian church, in the most catholic sense of the word, supernatural religion has always stood for something far more than a system of spiritual instruction or an instrument of moral suasion. The deep sense of sin, which is central to her faith, demands such a divine interposition in the course of natural development as shall work actual changes from guilt to righteousness, from sin to holiness, from life to death, in the sphere not merely of consciousness but of being."
i would also add that it doesn't take some great spiritual exercise or labyrinthine journey to hear the God - God speaks loudly and clearly to me every day through His word.
3. The role of bloggers in spiritual awakening? It's interesting to read Diane Roberts on all things charismatic because she are one of them. People like me can raise critique charismatics but won't be taken seriously since people like me believe the Holy Spirit ceased to exist with the closing of the canon. But when Diane and others raise an eyebrow at shenanigans in places like Lakeland, FL, which is my old stomping grounds, it pays to take notice. And it appears from at least one perspecive that bloggers played a role in unmasking some of the excesses in Lakeland. Here she quotes Andrew Strom:
Some say that Lakeland would have fallen apart by itself without any need for all the emails or blogs, etc. As someone with an inside view of events, I have to say that this is not true at all. The people posting information via blogs, emails, Youtube videos, etc, have been utterly essential to what has happened. When Charisma started publishing about the Revival, I know for a fact that when they found out certain information through the Internet it changed their stance from "total support" to 'questioning'. I'm sure that ABC Nightline would say the same. And I know for a fact that ICA apostle Robert Ricciardelli's opposition to Lakeland would not have become widely known at all if it weren't for blogs or email Lists like this one. All of these factors have been utterly crucial. I think some blogs may get a little bit harsh or "personal" at times, but overall I want to say- Kudos to the bloggers! You've made a real difference. You have protected multitudes of sheep around the world from being further deceived and destroyed.
4. How to be a good blogger - just try a little harder. In fact, this pretty much applies to everything:
Good blogs try. I've come to believe that creative life in the first-world comes down to those who try just a little bit harder. Then, there's the other 98%. They're still eating the free continental breakfast over at FriendFeed. A good blog is written by a blogger who thinks longer, works harder, and obsesses more. Ultimately, a good blogger tries. That's why "good" is getting rare.
5. The gospel is at the heart of peacemaking (and everything else for that matter!). Fred Barthel points out that often, when trying to teach people how to be peacemakers, they just don't "get it." The reason is, they don't get the gospel. I couldn't agree more with the following - we must "get" the gospel to "get" peacemaking (and I would add - any other Christian virtue or duty):
Reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel, and so the gospel is at the heart of our ministry. Even when we were still his enemies, God made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son. And since we have been reconciled with God, we can be reconciled with one another. Because God has forgiven us in Christ, we can forgive others. This is a radically different way for Christians to relate to each other—a way that glorifies his Son and powerfully appeals to a watching world. Peacemaker Ministries exists to help the church live out this wonderful truth.
6. Stupid ways to deal with bad attitudes and other relational problems. When the gospel isn't the foundation of relationships it's amazing what kinds of ideas we'll come up with to deal with these things. Julie Nedinger overheard some ladies complaining about bad attitudes and gossip at work and here are some of the solutions they proposed:
- posters in the break room encouraging positive attitude (as if anything good comes from posting something in the break room)
- giving away peanut butter cups, and other such rewards, based on the good things and positive attitudes exhibited by the employees
- Catchy catch-phrases to remind everyone of the hoped-for positive attitude
Julie says "A poster like that is asking to be defaced with a Sharpie." Me, I've always found that there's no problem that can't be solved by a trust fall exercise and a big ol' group hug.
7. The tyranny of usefulness. I can't tell you how much I appreciated this post from "thebrooks" over at City of God. He (or I guess it could be a she) went off on a rant after reading some stuff by a well-known theologian decrying time wasted in useless activities. "thebrooks" pushed back against what I would call the idolatry of usefulness. He quotes Peter Leithart on the uselessness of the liberal arts and shows that this applies to more than just liberal arts:
Leithart concedes that studying the liberal arts is useless. But hey, that’s ok. Why accept the standard that judges everything by its usefulness? In Leithart’s words:
No, we must not respond to this criticism by seeking some use for the liberal arts. In fact, to defend the ‘usefulness’ of the liberal arts is to accept the standards of our critics, the criterion that judges every human pursuit by its economic, political, or personal usefulness. If we do this, we lose the argument before we begin. We must concede that the liberal arts are, at least by normal standards, useless.
How does God relate to all this?
We are creatures made in the image of a Creator who makes things that He does not need, things that are not of use to Him. As we imitate His excess, we play music and recite poetry and tell stories – and organize liberal arts colleges so others can do these things with us. The liberal arts are useless in the same way that the centerpiece on a dining room table is useless … useless in the way that perfecting a golf swing is useless; useless in the same way that most of what makes life rich and beautiful is useless.
Hey, here's an idea. As a follow-up to the Harris brothers book "Do Hard Things," maybe we need someone to write a book called "Do Useless Things."
8. Was Luther a proponent of dynamic equivalence in bible translations? I've tried to stay out of all of the bible translation debates that have waged in the blogosphere the last few years. The reason is that my language studies in seminary, while not making me an expert in languages, gave me a respect for the languages and a respect for the issues involved in translation. And this has caused me to see that the difference between formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence is a difference in degree not in kind. And all translation is interpretation. So it is with this in mind that I came across this blog post that features some comments from Martin Luther and it seems that he favors what we moderns would call a more "dynamic" approach:
What purpose does it serve unnecessarily to abide by the words so rigidly and strictly that people can get no sense out of them? Whoever would speak German must not see Hebrew idioms; but if he understand the Hebrew writer, he must see to it that he grasps his meaning and must think: Now let me see. How does a German speak in this case? When he has the German words that serve the purpose, then let him dismiss the Hebrew words and freely express the sense in the best German he is capable of using. (What Luther Says, pp. 105-06)
The gospel must be the answer. The gospel is not, ‘Try doing things this way’. The gospel is ‘It is finished!’ Now that will humble. That will drive the world down to contrition and brokenness because our real drive is not an abstract lawlessness but a craving to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, to make a name.
A journalist asked me, Most people have a better standard of living today than Louis XIV did in his day. So why are so many people unhappy?
What you have doesn't make you unhappy. What you want does.
And want is created by us, the marketers.
Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.
11. As the pastor of a church that has declined to the point where we need to start over the following from Tom Peters was music to my ears and encouragement for my will:
My anonymous visiting friend gave me The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, by David Price. Consider this paragraph:
"One of the curious aspects of Pixar's story is that each of the leaders was, by conventional standards, a failure at the time he came onto the scene. [Animator-superstar John] Lasseter landed his dream job at Disney out of college—and had just been fired from it. [Tech genius and founding CEO Ed] Catmull had done well-respected work as a graduate student in computer graphics, but had been turned down for a teaching position and ended up in what he felt was a dead-end software development job. Alvy Ray Smith, the company's co-founder, had checked out of academia, got work at Xerox's famous Palo Alto Research Center, and then abruptly found himself on the street. [Steve] Jobs had endured humiliation and pain as he was rejected by Apple Computer; overnight he had transformed from boy wonder of Silicon Valley to a roundly ridiculed has been. ..."
That is, shit happens. And if enough of it happens to you, then, if you are wise, you'll fold 'em. And God (and I) will love you just as much as if you'd endured—but we won't read about you in the history books.
12. I don't know why but I found something strangely wise and profound in this snarky little post from Skitzo Leezra:
Tyler Cowen, my new (imaginary) boyfriend and author of Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist gets it. He understands that most women want diamonds and other stuff that guys think to be stoopid. He writes "the best gifts are often those that we, as gift givers, do not ourselves value very much."
EVERYone should consider and remember it when Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries roll around. Sure, it is more fun to purchase a gift that you, yourself, would love to have but the more considerate gift is the one that you couldn't give a rat's ass about.
It reminds me of Steven Covey's advice to not read your own autobiography into other people's lives, but even deeper than that it reminds me to not live as if I am the center of the universe, i.e. assuming that everyone is or ought to be like me, and like the things I like and value the things I value.
And for those who are questioning my manhood for reading Skitzo Leezra, I followed a link from Tyler Cowen's blog - Marginal Revolution. Seriously, I did . . . how 'bout them Bears!
To be offended is usually a rather unpleasant experience, one that can expose a person to intolerance, cultural misunderstandings, and even evoke the scars of the past. This is such an unpleasant experience that many people develop a thick skin and try to only be offended in the most egregious and awful situations. In many circumstances, they can allow smaller offenses to slip by as fighting them is a waste of time and energy. But white people, blessed with both time and energy, are not these kind of people. In fact there are few things white people love more than being offended.
14. You know me, always got to get on my soapbox, or beat a dead horse, or get on soapbox while beating a dead horse - about the whole low-carb thing. Here's today's diatribe. Ever heard of the French Paradox? It's the paradox that wonders why the French eat so much fat and generally stay thin. It's only a paradox if you accept the premise that eating fat makes you fat. But if eating fat doesn't make you fat, there's no paradox.
So What’s My Point?
No major point here other than to say that these “paradoxes” are only paradoxes based on the premises that their built upon. When a data point fails to fit the formula, we either have to remeasure the data point, discount it as an outlier, or revise our formula, either by changing the original premises or adding new ones. Unfortunately, such a dietary empire has been built on the premise that animal fats (along with non-animal-based saturated fats like coconut and palm) are unhealthful that people absolutely refuse to revisit that first premise. Instead, they concoct all manner of nonsensical ways to explain away the data.
Frankly, to my mind, there’s no paradox. It doesn’t blow my mind that groups that eat loads of fat don’t necessarily get fat and don’t die of heart disease. As I’ve shown before, my diet is 60% or more fat. Yet somehow I maintain a low body fat percentage and rarely get sick. Am I yet another paradox? (Wouldn’t that be fun…a media report of “The Modern Forager Paradox”) If I’m a paradox, so is Mark Sisson. And so are the majority of people on the CrossFit and Performance Menu forums with their high-fat diets.
I think the paradox is that a highly intelligent human being can continue sticking with the standard party line that animal products and saturated fats are killers in light of all of the emerging evidence.
15. T. S. Eliot on "Christian Literature." It is our business, as readers of literature, to know what we like. It is our business, as Christians, as well as
readers of literature, to know what we ought to like. It is our
business as honest men not to assume that whatever we like is what we
ought to like; and it is our business as honest Christians not to
assume that we do like what we ought to like. And the last thing I
would wish for would be the existence of two literatures, one for
Christian consumption and the other for the pagan world.
A quibble and a comment. The quibble comes from a remembrance of something C. S. Lewis wrote to the effect that we ought not to bow to the tyrrany of only reading books we "ought" to read. There is nothing wrong with reading books simply because you like them.
It is our business, as readers of literature, to know what we like. It is our business, as Christians, as well as readers of literature, to know what we ought to like. It is our business as honest men not to assume that whatever we like is what we ought to like; and it is our business as honest Christians not to assume that we do like what we ought to like. And the last thing I would wish for would be the existence of two literatures, one for Christian consumption and the other for the pagan world.
The comment is that I agree with the spirit of what he says about the two literatures - but just as the bible was written specifically to the church, there is nothing wrong with writings directed toward Christians. In other words, there are particular genres - theology, commentary, history and the like - which are particularly useful to the church and can and be directed toward it. I think what Eliot says applies to taking the standard broader genres of literature and dividing them up - i.e. for historical fiction we now have "Chrstian" historical fiction, for murder mysteries we now have "Christian" murder mysteries, etc.