Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World by Douglas Kelly

Growing up under the tutelage of the secularist state-controlled government educational institution, I was taught very little about the origins of our government here in this great country called The United States of America. But there was one small tidbit of information which has stuck in my mind; Every year around Thanksgiving, amongst the making of paper turkeys, pilgrims, and Indians to hang on the wall, we were told our ancestors came to this country because they were trying to escape"religious" persecution of some sort or another. "Really," I remember thinking, almost out loud, "weren't those countries, i.e. England, Scotland, Ireland, etc, also Christian?" Of course they were, but if I ever did ask that question, I never remember getting a very good answer to it!

Enter Douglas Kelley's excellent little book on,The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through 18th Centuries. This is the book everyone should have read in high school in order to understand the origins of our free country. Kelly traces the history of Calvinistic influenced government from the time of Reformer John Calvin in Geneva Switzerland, through the Huguenots in France, (who suffered tremendous persecution), up through John Knox in Scotland and his dealings with Queen Mary, on to the Protestant Reformation in England and the fight between the balance of power there between church and state; which is the point where our "Calvinistic" ancestors fled to these wondrous shores of America, in order to establish religious freedom. In other words to escape the tyrannical rule of the British crown.

Kelly gets the heart of the theological convictions of our forefathers. He focuses a lot on the Puritans and their influence and struggle with the British monarchy and the goal of resisting tyrany; the depravity of man as it relates to men being in power over others being a crucial point. The overarching theme of Kelly's wonderful little book is Calvin's view of the outworking of the two-pronged view of the separation of the powers of church and state. This is extremely important as we try to understand the reason for the separation of the three branches or powers of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The power of the church does not derive it's authority from the state but from Christ alone who is Lord over both the church and state.
A great little book! I highly recommend it for anyone at least remotely interested in how our government here in America came into being.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Worshipers and Women

We're all religious in one sense: What I mean is we're all "worshipers." We are human beings who have the capacity to delight in, and enjoy things. The thing we delight in and and enjoy the most is what the Bible and Christians define as"worship." Some delight in money, fame, fortune, family, new car, dog, or cat, or whatever, they're enjoying something above all else and that's worship. Negatively put, John Calvin said our hearts are "idol factories." In a nutshell he means this, God created us all to be worshipers and yet as fallen human beings we attempt to find our satisfaction in any and everything else other than the one who can satisfy our greatest desire. Saint Augustine said, "our hearts are restless until they find their delight ultimately in the God who made us." (my paraphrase).

Secondly, any religion that delights and enjoys the practice of abusing and dishonoring women is despicable. Period.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bed Bugs- Still Sucking Blood

A couple years ago some friends of mine brought bed bugs into their home from an overnight stay at a hotel room. It took them months to get rid of them! I saw my friend on a daily basis and I can attest to observing the red splotchy marks on his neck. I would ask him, "Still got 'em, huh?" His answer? "Yep.." Their family was horrified by it!

Now, I hear in New York City, 1 in 5 people have them in their apartments, houses, etc. This is scary stuff!

Take a look at the photo at the upper left. This is place where you will want to examine on a mattress if you check into a hotel room. They like to hide out in the crevices of mattresses. I know, it's gross but it's worth a check before you sleep in a strange room. During dailylight hours they crawl behind the walls and under the floor.

As you can see from the photo on the right those red markings are not attractive naturally red features but blood showing through the body of a bed bug. Why? Because they are blood suckers, which is grotesque but worse of all, they are one of the absolutely hardest pests to ever get rid of. I wish you well my friends! (And don't let them critters bite you when you're trying to sleep!)
If you plan to vacation in NYC, you ought to consider taking a "bed bug proof" mattress covers with you. See below.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher

Ghostwriter: A Novel The protagonist, a writer of horror fiction with a bad case of writer's block, struggles with the recent death of his wife and a ghost who won't leave him alone. He's also haunted by flashbacks of his stories which seem real, but are they? One never knows... Many loose ends and thoroughly unsatisfying. Thrasher shows potential to be the next "Christian" Stephen King but he needs to work on the rough edges of his plot and try not so hard to be the next King or Koontz.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Deep Comedy by Peter Leithart

With a big emphasis on the word "deep," Leithart paddles into the pool of punditry in his book Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, & Hope In Western Literature with a very serious look at comedy and the Christian Faith with regards to literature. But seriously folks, this book ain't funny. If you're looking for light, fluffy humor stick with the Sunday funny papers because this book is as serious as a heart attack!

Leithart defines "deep comedy" as a story that ends with a better ending than the way it began, with a good dose of tragedy in the middle.

The book is basically split into three parts: Firstly he examines ancient literature, i.e. The Iliad, The Odyssey, etc. According to Leithart, there is very little if any "deep" comedy in ancient literature. In the second part, he looks at "deep comedy" as it relates to theology. And finally, in the third and last part, Leithart focuses on Shakespeare, particularly the plays, King Lear, and Twelfth Night (which I have never read but I'm afraid they might "kill" me if I were to do so!); showing how these stories are very much examples of "deep comedy." In other words they are profoundly "Christian" in their scope.

It would behoove me to go back and read this book again sometime in the future. It was a short, albeit hard, difficult, and deep book. And that's no laughing matter!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"9" starring Elijah Wood

9 [Blu-ray] is fantabulistic visually stunning, post-apocalyptic thriller with a lot of heart and soul but kinda' lame on story character development. I loved the look and personality of the characters, (an interesting thing since they were all robots with the exception of one). The special effects were particularly thrilling and believable. It had just the right amount of Tim Burtonish visuals to make it freaky and fun! The bad guy (robot) was really bad. I'm always a sucker for "machines taking over the world" films. The atmosphere created by the computer animators was dirty, grimey, and gritty enough to seem like I was watching reality rather CGI. The sound effects were sensational and caused me to almost jump out of my seat a few times! The running time was short, 1 hour 12 minutes and hardly enough to even develop an introduction to what the story had the potential to be. Aesthetically and superficially wonderful with very little depth of story and character development. Check out the preview below!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible

Barbara Kingsolver in her book,The Poisonwood Bible has told a rich, detailed, yet flawed story of a family torn between religions, cultures, and relationships.

A fiery Baptist preacher, his wife and four daughters head into the ruthless and vengeful jungle of the Congo in 1960 to do missionary work. This historic narrative is told through the eyes of the sisters and mother. It alternates viewpoints from one chapter to another and traces approximately 40 years of history. Their voices seemed authentic and sad. I felt as though I was reading a biography of real people going through real turmoil. The father figure is ruthless, (more about him in a moment).The family meets not only with the dangers of nature and the Congo natives but their worse enemy may have be their ownselves!

Although, I found her style of writing to be thrilling and very imaginative her negative outlook towards Christians and America is apparent on almost every page. The father is hard-headed, oppressive, and exhibits no love toward those to whom he's preaching the gospel and no love towards his own family. He's a hypocrite of the worse fashion and yet he's the only "real believer" in the story. The entire family rejects the faith of their father and the author presents this as a positive thing. I kept gettting the feeling that if Kingsolver would have put as much research into real Christians as she did African culture the book would have been 100 times better! She's very sympathetic towards paganism.

Overall it was is both funny, thrilling and sad in parts but I found her bias against Christian missionaries to be diappointing. A pageturner but a turn-off ultimately.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Justification by N.T. Wright

Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision is N.T. Wright's well written answer to John Piper's book,The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright. His tone toward Piper is gracious yet firm. He believes a paradigm shift must takes place in how most theologians have understood "imputed righteousness," over the last 400 years, which he believes was a knee jerk reaction of the Reformers against Roman Catholicism. According the Wright the issue was never about "merit" but about God's faithfulness to keep his promise to Abraham. That faithfulness of God to keep covenant, according to Wright is what Paul means by God's "righteousness."

The first half of the book is theological and the second half is exegetical. Wright's emphasis and constant reminder to his readers is God's promise to Abraham to bless the nations and remedy the curse of sin by sending the faithful Israelite; Jesus the Messiah to live and die for His people in order to redeem them. This, according to Wright is Paul's message and the overarching theme of the Bible. According to Wright, it must not be ignored when trying to understand how the world is being redeemed for God's glory and how a person becomes a child of God.

A must read for anyone interested in the subjects of Soteriology, Ecclessiology, or Eschatology; in other words anyone wanting to know how and why they fit into this community called, "The People of God" ought to read it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sleep, Snooze, & Sloth

According to Psalm 127:2, sleep is a gracious gift. "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,eating the bread of anxious toil;for he gives to his beloved sleep." However, like other gracious gifts from God, i.e. "wine, women, and song," sleep can be abused. Consider this verse from Proverbs 19:15, "Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger." The important thing to know about wisdom literature, is it speaks in generalities and cannot be applied the exact same way in every situation. Case in point, one could take the two verses quoted above and say, "see, the Bible contradicts itself." Well, no...duh! It does not. Both statements, "Look before you leap," and "He who hesitates is lost," may appear to be contradictory but must be understood in a proper context with an appropriate application.