In his book Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal quotes D. Elton Trueblood saying “Deliberate mediocrity is a sin.”
In his book Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal quotes D. Elton Trueblood saying “Deliberate mediocrity is a sin.”
An ink blotter is like a lazy baby dog in that a blotter is an ink-lined plane, an inclined plane is a slope up, and a slow pup is a lazy dog.
Why do we call it politics? Because poly means many and ticks means blood-sucking parasites.
A couple samples from The Giant Book of Animal Jokes: Beastly Humor for Grownups [by way of AWAD].
Director Peter Jackson appears to have purchased the film rights to a novel series in which dragons are used during the Napoleonic era. Naomi Novik, whose first novel, His Majesty’s Dragon, garnered a bit a praise, has written three books in her Temeraire series. I see that Sarah Weinman likes them, and so does Anne McCaffrey.
Hoops and Yoyo are animated characters from Hallmark. In this eCard, they have coffee jitters. I love it.
“I need the bean! Give me the bean!”
“I’ve been a good boy. Give me bean juice!!”
You can give them coffee or not, but they won’t stop yelling for it until you do.
Today, I learned The Kenyon Review has a blog. I have a good impression of this literary journal, but still have yet to subscribe. My impression may be unfounded, perhaps being drawn from my good impression of poet Jane Kenyon who doesn’t have anything to do with the college.
Anyway, the KR blogger Liz Lopatto is complaining about books for which she’d like a refund. Among them:
Everything Jane Austen has ever written, but especially Persuasion. I’ve never been fond of Austen’s ridiculous style, and while David Lynn has tried unsuccessfully to convince me that she’s really parodying the characters she writes about, she spends so much loving detail describing every second of their boring lives that I can’t believe him. I threw Persuasion across the room several times when I had to read it for my English comprehensive exercise, but especially when our heroine Anne, who has no flaws except that she might be plain (this changes as the book goes on, however; her beauty blooms again!), discovers Captain Wentworth really does love her. I threw the book and stomped on it when her spurned suitor, her cousin, turns out to be a “villain.” Because our Anne couldn’t possibly break the heart of someone who’s decent–oh, no, she’s too good for that. I understand Austen is considered a classic but I still can’t figure out why.
She doesn’t like Dickens or Moby Dick either. To each his own.
No, I’m not going to type “to each his or her own,” because it’s awkward. English speakers should understand that implication and avoid petty language politics.
De of Thinklings and the programmer behind the blog software we use at BwB points out a post by author James Scott Bell. “The ‘celebrity author’ thing is highly overrated. Even those with #1 NY Times bestsellers are known only by a relative few. And a yearning for adulation can be destructive. The moment you start believing your press releases, you’re on a slippery slope.” Mr. Bell offers a handful of good examples for this.
[first blogged on Halloween 2003] In honor of the upcoming season, let me write a bit about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great short story, “Young Goodman Brown.” Many of us were forced to read it in high school, but maybe you didn’t. Reject that foul Stephen King novel! Banish that evil Anne Rice tome! Tolle lege* this short tale of a young man’s dreadful walk with the devil.
I think the reason “Young Goodman Brown” sticks in my mind as a great tale, other than my fascination with early America and affection for Hawthorne, is its clear description of how to set yourself up for believing a lie. Brown does three things in the first couple pages to seal his doom. He leaves his home at sunset to meet the devil in the forest. Apparently, he is searching for the truth. He wants to hear what the devil has to say for himself. And like an idiot, he starts his trip just before dusk. Darkness conceals many things, so if he really wanted to the truth, he would look for it in daylight when things can be seen for what they are. But at dusk, he walks deep into the forest–putting himself in a place where shadows conceal. How much can you see when you’re in a dense forest at night? Still, Brown thinks he can meet the father of lies in a place like this and reason with him. That’s his biggest mistake, and possibly the one which makes his doom inevitable. He thinks he can talk to the devil and parse his words for bits of truth. Of course, Old Scratch reels him in easily.
When Brown first objects to walking deeper into the trees, Old Scratch encourages him to present his arguments while they walk because he can always turn back. Too far, Brown says while walking. He must not be seen walking with the devil. Naturally, replies the devil, that’s why my dealings with your father and grandfather were kept secret. What! Can it be true? exclaims young Brown. Of course not, you idiot! You’re talking with the devil! He doesn’t tell the truth except to make a lie more plausible, because a slight miscalculation is an easier lie to shallow than a total fabrication. Brown doesn’t get it, unfortunately, so into the darkness he goes.
What about us? Do these steps apply to our quest for truth, even if we don’t have the devil penciled in for 10 p.m. Friday? Yes, they do.
1. Darkness conceals truth. Light describes wisdom and knowledge. Read the first few chapters of Proverbs for descriptions of wisdom and her methods. In order to shed light on the deep questions you’re asking, give yourself time and quiet reflection. Noise and busyness can act as clouds over the sun. Try to avoid them, but don’t think getting alone with your thoughts will draw all truth to you. You can come up with only so many answers when you’re the one confused.
2. Trees obstruct the light and hide the real world. In the forest, Brown found that the night only got darker. The same can happen to us in a forest of opinions. We can find wisdom in many counselors, but not all opinions are worth hearing. C.S. Lewis encouraged readers to postpone reading another contemporary book until they had read an old one, meaning a book written before last century. If we consume many modern books, we can become conditioned by a limited perspective particular to our day. By reading old books, we are better equipped to see beyond a limited modern perspective.
3. The devil does not have a worthy point of view. It’s common to try to hear both sides of an issue in order to form an unbiased opinion; but I’d like to suggest that some perspectives, some sides of particular issues, are completely wrong. Not everyone’s perspective is worth hearing. Some are logically inconsistent. Some are merely argumentative, taking up a position solely to conflict with another position. The better ones are internally sound, though they may be based on lies or ignorance. Some are completely right. It’s no shame to be partisan when your side is right.
I hope haven’t bored you back to your Doctorow novel. Have a good weekend, and try to avoid the cheap candy. Life is too short to eat waxy chocolate and those nasty orange rounds.
Dr. J.P. Moreland’s latest book, published a few months ago, is called, The Lost Virtue of Happiness. I have been impressed by Moreland’s thinking for long time, and the remarkable Stacy Harp of Active Christian Media says it “is by far one of the best books I’ve read concerning the application of scripture and the integration of psychology.” She talked to Dr. Moreland recently for her podcast.
Writer Phillip Manning reviews Scientist Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God, in which he describes his journey from atheism to Christianity. Manning sums up Collins’ arguments with this:
The most [Collins] can offer is “that a belief in God is intensely plausible.” But plausible ideas are only starting points in science. Their validity must be established by rigorous testing. Collins may be as sure of his faith as he is of the map of the human genome, but the evidence he provides to support his beliefs do not meet scientific standards. He may have leapt across the chasm between science and religion, but his book does not show the rest of us the way.
I wonder if Manning accepts the premise that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. He doesn’t appear to accept it, because he wants the ideas of god and salvation proven by scientific methods. Perhaps that’s what Collins purports to do in his book. But it can’t be done. God is not made from the stuff in a petri dish.
God’s defense of himself does not appeal to science. In Romans, he says he is angry with men “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” They may claim to have no evidence of God, and he replies by saying they are willfully ignorant. Doesn’t follow Dale Carnegie’s advice, does it.
The Australian National Memory Test has taken in surveys from almost 30,000 Australians and concluded that watching too much TV and drinking too much drags down your mind, making it difficult to remember whatever it was you were trying to remember when you started, say, writing a sentence. On the other hand, people who read fiction, ate fish regularly, and worked crossword puzzles tended to have better memory.
Neuro-psychologist Nancy Pachana said, “TV can be a really passive activity, while reading is active, and any active activity is better.” So a little TV as part of an active day won’t harm your memory, and active TV viewing can be good for you.
Remember this is the first of two contests for Lars Walker novels. The next one will be open to bloggers and require a certain kind of post. I’ll let you know soon.
I’ve almost fallen under the wagon this week with multiple stress sources, but as always the Lord is my shepherd. Some people talk about feeling the Lord is distant, that he’s left them at the train station and they don’t know when he will return. I think I understand the feeling, but I’ve never felt that way. When I feel distant from the Lord, I blame myself for leaving him. I am prone to wander; I am prone to leave the God I love.
If he ever left me, I would die.
But you and I don’t know one another well, if at all, so I’ll stop. The drawing for Lars’ books will close today at 11:00 a.m. That’s before noon, if you aren’t reading the time correctly. I will announce winners after they respond to their emails, so we may not know who wins today.
Mr. Bertrand has a good post on discernment in general and points out that the Apostle Paul quoted a Greek poet out of context and the blogosphere doesn’t flame him for it.
Did Paul read the poem from which he quoted or is it more likely that he heard the poem recited in the marketplace or courtyard?
Relief Journal, a new quarterly whose first issue will appear in print this November, asks about the most important job of a Christian author. Is it to reveal Christ to non-Christians? Is it to paint a picture of the world as it should be? Is it to write with skill and authenticity, to reflect reality from a Christian worldview, or to encourage and edify Christians? Take the poll.
You can begin voting for The Quill Book Awards now on MSNBC. I hope to compose a thoughtful post to tell you how you should vote, or at least how I voted, later this week. With twenty categories, I may have to write a few posts.