August 10, 2009
Jared Wilson's book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe, shows us exactly what kind of Jesus the Bible presents, and what kind of Jesus the early Church worshiped. The kind of Jesus that the apostles died for.
When I first heard about this book, I figured that Jared was going to skewer common misconceptions of Jesus. He does, but that's pretty much over with in the introduction to the book. Instead, Jared takes the high road and shows readers exactly who Jesus really was, how that image contrasts with our contemporary ideas of Jesus, and what it means for us today - how it should impact our daily lives and our walk with Him.
This is the kind of book that could easily turn into a heavily theological treatise, with lots of references to Greek grammar. In other words, it could turn into a book that you'd only read if your professor required it. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Your Jesus Is Too Safe is a book that can be read by anyone - I could see this being used as the fuel for a series at any church Bible study or book club. The writing style is familiar and conversational -- my wife had trouble believing I was reading a theology book because of how often I was laughing (make sure you read the footnotes!). But just because it's easy to read doesn't mean that it's theologically light. There's are outstanding discussions of the nature of the atonement, the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, etc., all presented in a way that the concepts can be easily understood, along with the implications for our daily lives.
This is a book that I've been eagerly waiting for, just because I'm familiar with Jared's writing and knew that it would be a good book. After reading it, I'm even more eager for more people to read it, because one of the problems I see in contemporary Christianity is that we're worshiping a watered-down Jesus. We see only some aspects of Jesus - the parts that don't really have an impact on our daily lives, the parts that invite us to hang out and be homies. We ignore the aspects of Jesus that call us to repentance, that expect obedience from us, that call us into service for the kingdom of God. Those are Jesus, too. The point of Your Jesus Is Too Safe is to call the church to the worship of all of Jesus, even the parts that make us uncomfortable or call us to action. When that happens, I think that we'll see a true revival in our churches.
But hey, don't take my word for it. This post is just one part of a blog tour that's been put together for this book. It's going on all week this week, and you can find links to other reviews of Your Jesus Is Too Safe right here.
April 19, 2009
March 08, 2009
I probably won't spend much time looking at explicitly Christian films, since the spirituality there is apparent. I'll look at mainstream film, to see the religion "ghosts" (as the folks at GetReligion put it). I also won't just be saying "good movie, bad movie" (I'll do that kind of thing at my reviews blog); this is going to be more like "What does this movie say, spiritually?" "What is the worldview in this movie?" -- that kind of thing. Sometime soon I'll be republishing my review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, because there's a very important "ghost" there that really gives the movie a different metaphysical slant than the books had.
But today, I'm going to look at The Dark Knight. more...
January 27, 2009
If you want to help me out, you can donate through the PayPal link on the right, OR you can sign up for your new website through the Bluehost link, also on the right. Bluehost is where the new site will be parked, and I've got some big plans once I can get moved over. I'm probably going to turn off comments on this site, and delete the links from the template, just because of the amount of spam I'm getting. But VERY soon, things will look much different around here.
Google Chrome isn't stable. At least not on my computer. Admittedly, I've got an old computer (7 years old now), but one of the reasons I decided to use Chrome was because it wasn't resource intensive -- it was something that I thought I could use on my computer without it becoming a resource hog.
And it's not a resource hog. In fact, there's a lot to like about Chrome; I love the ability to save sites as 'applications' on the desktop -- I've done that for Google Reader and Google Docs, and as I use more Internet-based applications I figured I'd do it more often. After all, the more "cloud computing" I do, the better; I'm not handicapped by my own ancient computer if I'm using someone else's computer.
But Chrome crashes on me several times every day. It runs Flash sporadically for me at best, though I've just about given up listening to music on MySpace with it (and I do that a lot -- I sample music for the podcast via bands' MySpace pages), and watching YouTube videos is hit and miss. Just a few minutes ago, I was trying to upload some pictures to my Facebook account, and it totally crashed on me.
These things wouldn't upset me if Chrome was still in Beta. But it's not; this is a product that, rumor has it, is going to be packaged with Dell computers in the not too distant future. And it's not working very well on my Dell.
I like Google. I use Google Reader, and I use Google Docs. I've got four Gmail accounts. The potential for Chrome is there, but it just won't work for me, and I can't justify wasting any more time on it.
December 03, 2008
I've been Twittering for a while now -- almost a year, by the looks of my Twitter archive (64 pages, 1,278 Tweets). In that time, I've developed a sort of personal code regarding Twitter usage.
If you don't know what Twitter is, you need to watch this video before you read any further:
December 01, 2008
That's what my daughter said to me, the day after Thanksgiving. It struck me as a bit unusual, since it's Christmas day when we open our presents. But she's looking forward to the excitement on Christmas Eve. The traditions we have. The anticipation.
That's what Advent is -- anticipation. Waiting. And knowing that what we are waiting for is worth the wait, no matter how long it will be.
Think about the nation of Israel. They were promised a Deliverer, a Messiah. They knew He was coming. They waited for him.
And waited. They waited so long that they forgot what they were being delivered from. They forgot the point, and decided He was coming to deliver them from the Romans. But they still waited.
In Luke 2, we read about Simeon, a man who had been promised a look at that Deliverer before he died. When he saw the Christ child, he rejoiced, knowing that the Deliverer had come. The wait had been worth it.
We've become an impatient people. Our high speed Internet is still too slow -- I can remember when I upgraded to a 56k modem from our old 14.4, and I still think that my new, high speed cable connection is slow at times. We don't like to wait at all.
Sometimes we think we are waiting for something that will never come. We decide we must have misunderstood someone somewhere, and that what we're waiting for isn't coming at all. We think we may have missed it completely; it came already, when we weren't looking, and we didn't notice it. We keep waiting, we think, in vain for something that isn't coming. Or we give up completely, and stop anticipating.
We're promised something in Scripture; we're promised that "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)" We anticipate that coming, just as Israel anticipated His first coming. We don't know when it will happen, in spite of some really ridiculous things that we say about him coming in, oh, say, 1988, or 2000, or 2012. We don't know when He's coming back. Sometimes, we think that we've missed it; that the Preterists are right, and He really came back in 70AD and nobody seems to have noticed it. Sometimes we think that maybe He isn't coming back after all. But we've got that promise in Acts. He's coming back just like He left.
As we enter this season of Advent, the season of anticipation, let's remember that we still have something to look forward to. And celebrate, because it will be worth all the waiting we've done.
November 07, 2008
And the lesser evil lost. Oh, well.
My Facebook status from a couple days ago pretty much sums my opinions up -- God's in charge, and He knows what He's doing. Even when we don't understand it, and even when things don't seem to be in anyone's control, He's got the steering wheel and knows what's going on.
I've run into ZeFrank's From 52 to 48 think on Twitter, and the idea seemed a little condescending to me. I couldn't really put into words why, though, until today.
First, I caught a thread on FlameFans. Seems that on campus at Liberty University, there are some people who aren't being very charitable towards folks who voted differently than they did. I was a bit upset with this, until I started hearing from students on campus that it was the Obama people who were calling people names, etc.
Now, I'm wiling to overlook this. It's a small sample at a school where their views aren't exactly welcome -- can you imagine being a liberal or even moderate Democrat at Jerry Falwell University? Wouldn't have worked when I was there, and I'm not sure things have changed that much. But it sure doesn't sound like people who want to work together to me.
Then I read this post at the Ace of Spades HQ blog, and I realized why the whole 52 to 48 thing sounded insincere.
These are the people who have spent the last eight years calling me a member of the American Taliban. They've insulted my intelligence, they've denigrated my faith, they've suggested that Christians should just go form their own country and that everyone else would be better off without me. They've called the President of the United States Hitler. They've accused me of racism for not supporting a black candidate -- after I supported Alan Keyes in three different elections, and have hoped for years to see J. C. Watts run for office. They all swore they'd move to Canada if Bush was re-elected in 2004 (and then went back on that promise). And now that they're in power, they suddenly expect us to play nice with them.
What a bunch of condescending garbage. "Now that we've got our way, we can all play nice together." No thanks. I'm not going to treat the President the way YOU treated the last one, I promise. I am going to be LOYAL opposition, but I will be opposition. The difference is, I will also be civil opposition -- much more than any of you ever were. But just shrugging my shoulders and going along with whatever you want to do? Not happening. I voted against Obama because of his policies, nothing else (accusations of racism to the contrary).
And in two years, we'll see. The only governing body with an approval rating on par with President Bush's has been the current Congress, and I only see things getting more partisan (you'll forgive me if I treat Speaker Pelosi's comments to the contrary with extreme skepticism). That's not what any of us voted for, and I see a change taking place in two years that will give President Obama a real challenge.
October 03, 2008
MOST of these are simply form email. Some are actually personalized email to me, where the author mentions a similar book I've reviewed, or something like that. I agree to read just about every request I get from someone who has taken the trouble to familiarize themselves with what I've read and reviewed in the past (not tough to do, between this blog, my my review blog, and Blogcritics. Right now I'm not taking any new books unless they sound REALLY good or they're by an author I really like, just because of the backlog.
I'm amazed, though, at how many people just send out mass email, hoping to find someone to review their book. I get press releases from all kinds of "spiritual enlightenment" authors who have no clue that the review they get here will be a bad one, just based on theology. They don't know what I'm about -- they just know I write reviews.
I read this piece by Chris Brogan today, and even though I don't get near the volume of email that I'm sure he gets, I can understand where he's coming from. When I get a bad PR email about a book that I just have to read, it makes me wonder -- if the author can't write a decent email promoting their book, what must the book be like? And nine times out of ten, I ignore the email, and never read the book if it shows up unsolicited. I wish every author and press agent would read Chris' post, at the very least, and start sending out better press releases about their books.
September 29, 2008
This season, my own alma mater Liberty University has been on a roll. They've got the longest winning streak in 1-AA football, and are one of a very few teams that are still undefeated. Of course, two Division II schools at the beginning of the season will do that for you, so that's not a real big bragging point for me.
But the win this past weekend on the road against Youngstown State is a bragging point. My only gripe is that the win should have been bigger -- Liberty led 28-14 going into the 4th quarter and let the Penguins come back. Of course, Youngstown State led 14-0 in the first half, and let Liberty come back and tie the game by halftime. Liberty won in the final second of the game, thanks to a short field goal.
HUGE win for the Flames' program. Their goal this season is to make the playoffs, which is actually almost as arbitrary as making a bowl game. The Big South doesn't get an automatic bid yet (2010 is the first year they're eligible), so Liberty has to play their way in. And that leaves them at the mercy of three different polls and a playoff selection panel that historically hasn't been very fond of Uncle Jerry's kids. But a win on the road in Youngstown is a major feather in their cap, and something the playoff folks and the pollsters cannot ignore. The Penguins haven't lost a non-conference home game since 2004, and Liberty got clobbered the last time they played there.
Which brings me to this week's game. Liberty heads to Conway, South Carolina to play Coastal Carolina. A team we beat last year at home. THE team to beat in the Big South if the Flames want to repeat as Big South champs. I'm tempted to do a makeover on the blog this week, going to the red and white Beat Coastal color scheme that LU had last season. If I have the time, I may do that.
Follow me on Twitter -- I tend to live Tweet Liberty's games as I listen to the internet audio feed. Go Flames!!
August 28, 2008
Compare the set to pictures of the President taken during a press conference in the Rose Garden. The DNC has built their own Rose Garden Press Conference Playset, complete with Major Media Reporter action figures. Veto-Power President Obama action figure shipping soon, some assembly required.
Seriously -- look at the Rose Garden picture here and note the similarities. I seriously think that is what the DNC is going for with this set, and not the Temple of Obama that people seem to be complaining about.
August 27, 2008
Curse of the Wolf Moon
I missed the introduction to this one. Basically, the assignment is to go hunt some herbs that grow near a lake, past a big mountain. Sort of a Dora the Explorer adventure.
Collecting the herbs will require a long trek -- through the forest, across a mountain pass, and finally to Mirror Lake. Andreius best get started!
Andreius was following a trail through the woods when his foot was violently yanked out from under him. His body followed, and he was suddenly upside down, swaying back and forth from a tree branch. Then goblins with big sticks emerged from the woods. The goblins took turns trying to smash Andreius with sticks while cackling jokes to each other. Between his expert wiggling and his armor, Andreius didn't receive any real injuries. He reached out with his Rapier and impaled one of the goblins in the face. Their tone instantly changed and they scurried away from their dangerous prey. This gave Andreius plenty of time to free himself and follow their fresh tracks.
Andreius was growing quite hungry and decided to throw a balanced stick at a rabbit as he had been taught to do by his uncle. It was almost easier than Andreius had remembered. He beaned the first rabbit on the head in one shot. It was a most delicious rabbit, and he felt much better with some meat in his stomach.
Andreius crossed into the mountain pass, and his progress slowed. Andreius came to an old suspension bridge made of rope and boards. Unfortunately it had snapped and was laying flat against the far side of the gorge. Andreius took his grappling hook and fifty feet of rope out of his pack, and tried to hook the bridge and drag it up. Andreius's aim was true, and he hauled the bridge back into place. After securing it properly, he was able to cross with ease.
Andreius encountered a sad looking shepherd in the mountain pass who told him that he had lost his magic sheep. Not wishing to bother with such an obviously preposterous story, Andreius moved on. (oops)
Finally, Andreius arrived at Mirror Lake, where the herbs were known to grow. Andreius was surprised to see two snarling kua-toa with nets and tridents rise out of the lake! The creatures were somewhat clumsy on land, and Andreius defeated them easily. Still, Andreius had to wonder what else might come out of that lake . . .
A lizardfolk warrior charged up the beach as terrified fishermen fled in its wake! Andreius charged in to meet it, and a mighty battle ensued. At last, the beast lay defeated, and the fishermen rewarded Andreius well for his aid.
Andreius was enjoying the beautiful weather at the edge of the lake when a giant crab appeared! The beast's claws and shell were a whole lot stronger than Andreius's weapon and armor. It was crushing Andreius in its claws by the time he found a spot soft enough to get an attack through. Andreius impaled the crab repeatedly in that spot, eventually defeating it. Andreius dragged the beast inland and sold its meat to the local fisher's guild.
With a name like Singing Falls, Andreius expected a cute little waterfall, not the two-hundred-yard wide, thirty-yard-high monstrosity thundering down before him. The blessed wolfsbane was there, growing on a rock protruding from the water right in front of the center of the falls. There were a lot of sharp rocks in front of the falls, actually, making a swimming approach too dangerous. Andreius walked under the waterfall and got pounded by the water. It seemed the only reasonable path even though the rocks were wet and slippery and the water punishing. Andreius's athletic prowess was up to the task and he was able to retrieve the wolfsbane. He proudly returned with it and saved the village. They will forever know him as a hero, and of course, rewarded him greatly.
Some serious schwag in this one -- a morningstar, a potion of glibness, a battleaxe, and a bunch of money. This one may have been a better "chapter one" than chapter two, but hey ....
As I was saying ... pop Christianity always seems to be several years behind pop culture. We got ska late, we got rap late (and most of it wasn't good), we got metal late (though some of it was quite good).
And now, we're getting Guitar Hero late.
If we have to compete with pop culture (and I'm not sold on that idea yet), we should compete with pop culture. Three months, tops -- not three years. Three years in, we look like dweebs. We're copycats, and not even good ones.
August 26, 2008
"Suppose for example you're a voter. And you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom would you vote?"
Of course, Paul Begala says that Clinton is "totally for Barak." And Clinton will never come out and support anyone but the Democratic nominee. But it makes you wonder ...
Ironically, there are plenty of Evangelical Christians who are asking themselves a similar question: Suppose you have Candidate X, who you only agree with half the time, and you've got Candidate Y, who you agree with on maybe one or two issues. If they're both electable, and only Candidate X has an actual voting record that goes further back than the current Presidency, who do you support?
And will either candidate win in 2012?
This is a good thing for Blogcritics. Eric and Phillip and everyone else at BC have worked hard to make it what it is today. It's a great place for bloggers to make a name for themselves, and it's a great online magazine. It shows how a "group blog" can effectively rebrand itself into a "magazine" while still keeping much of the tone of the original group blog.
There were some concerns along the way. I remember when the rule came down that nobody was allowed to publish their own material; every article had to be read over by an editor, and only an editor could publish the article. Long time writers weren't happy with giving up their autonomy, and several left. But I really think that the rule improved public perception of the site, and has certainly improved content -- and I speak as one of those editors at the time, who had to suddenly read a ton of articles every day, proofread, suggest improvements, and finally publish them. It wasn't what any of us signed up for, but it made things better. And when I finally stopped being an editor (I was assistant books editor, then full books editor, for several months), I still wrote for BC because I liked it.
I haven't written anything for Blogcritics in a while, though I do owe a few reviews (this month, expect a bunch of book and music reviews from me). I've made some contacts that I never would have otherwise. I've read books and listened to music I never would have otherwise. In short, I love Blogcritics.
And the purchase seems to only foreshadow good things for the site, including some talk of "monetization options for ... contributors". So congrats to Eric and Phillip, who are new Technorati employees. And congrats to my fellow Blogcritics, all 2,500 or so of us -- things are getting good.
The king's soldiers are protecting the wealthy merchants and nobles on the High Road, but bandits still prey on the common folk. The scoundrels hide from the soldiers in Crawling Bog, a sucking swamp so notorious for the dangerous plants and monsters that live there that the soldiers dare not enter. It's time someone brought the bandits to justice.
Andreius found tracks that led into the fetid swamps -- the thieves must have gone that way. The rain was pouring down through the leaves, feeding the churning river that Andreius was wading across. Suddenly, the stirring currents sucked him underwater. Andreius desperately held his breath while trying to resurface.
Andreius almost drowned when his lungs gave out. He thrashed about, gasped for air, took in water, and surfacing intermittently as the river dragged him along for what seemed an eternity. Nearly an hour later, Andreius emerged from the river battered and exhausted.
After a long afternoon of adventuring, Andreius came across a family and their wagon stuck deep in the mud. They were moving to the city because the father had gotten a new job in a prominent guild. He braced himself and, with a mighty heave, freed the wagon and pushed it to a drier patch of road. The family was grateful that they had escaped the swamp before night fell. They gave Andreius some money and a new weapon for helping them on their way.
While wading waist deep through a particularly sloppy patch of water in the swamp, Andreius was startled by a nearby splash and an unpleasant sensation of being bitten in the thigh. His armor was not quite strong enough, and it took several violent attacks with his Rusty Dagger to get the alligator off him. Back on shore, Andreius applied some first aid before moving on.
To say the size of the giant rat Andreius faced off against was unusual would be an understatement. Most townsfolk would never believe such a large rodent could exist. Nevertheless it had come thundering through the roots and brambles and was now smack in front of him with its teeth bared. Andreius almost had a hard time taking the rat seriously as he crushed it with his mace.
There were a great many old logs lying around the swamp. As they laid rotting, a thick and furry green moss had begun to engulf them. There was something peculiar about one of the mossy logs . . .
Unable to figure out what was so peculiar about that log, Andreius forged ahead through the swamp. Only much later did Andreius realize that he should have looked under the log.
Andreius rounded a corner and was confronted by a camp filled with bandits. He steeled himself for the fight ahead.
The bandit lord accepted Andreius's challenge to single combat! Andreius easily dodged the bandit lord's attacks and quickly subdued him, humiliating him in front of his band of thieves. Andreius was hailed as a hero when he returned the village's meager treasures.
I got some $$ and a new rapier out of the deal, but only ended half the encounters successfully.
All in all, it's a neat little app. I just hope they can keep the servers running.
So I see this as an opportunity to add some content here. I'll be posting all of my character's adventures here for your reading pleasure. And if you'd like to be my friend on Facebook, you can send me healing and "buffs" to aid in my adventures -- and I'll mention you here.
The introduction appears after the break: more...
August 09, 2008
August 04, 2008
Looks like the person who checked on her status was checking under her married name, and she never changed it in her LU records. I'm still not 100% sure when she left, though it looks like she kept taking classes through Liberty's Distance Learning program so that she could keep her position with the Obama campaign. So that part was incorrect -- had she contacted me and asked me in a civil tone to fix it, the post would have been edited with a note attached. Since she can't seem to speak to anyone who disagrees with her in a civil manner, I'm leaving the post up and adding this correction post.
Near as I can tell, that's the only fact I've got wrong. Well, that and the fact that she's not a student at LC either -- from what she said on the Flamefans forum, she "forgot" to include her transcripts with her application. I'll leave you to insert your own incredulous statement there.
I still think that someone showing up at a notoriously conservative school who is not just a moderate but obviously a flaming liberal is there for one reason -- to stir up trouble. Having done that, she's done. And I still doubt her ability to actually defend her position. When she posted on the "civil discussion" thread, she admitted that she hadn't done as much research on Obama as she should have, and didn't seem to know anything about his positions on many issues. She either wouldn't or couldn't answer direct questions about his policies. So you make up your own mind. I know I have, and I'm done with the subject.
Until she tries to sue me over this post, too. Then we'll have some fun
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