May 28th, 2012

Guest Post: “Is God Boring?” by Jon Acuff

Sometimes it just hits me: God didn’t have to make life anything more than functional. He didn’t have to give us colors, or beauty, or music, or emotions. But He did, and we often take it for granted. A while back I ran across this article written by Jon Acuff on this subject and I thought he did a great job. Acuff says it better than I could.

Last summer I got stung four times by jellyfish while visiting Tybee Island. If you don’t follow me on Twitter than you probably missed that fascinating series of tweets that mostly involved me saying stuff like “Got stung by a jelly fish again today! Why does this keep happening?”
Looking back on it a year later it’s pretty obvious why it kept happening. I was in the ocean. Where jellyfish live. And I have amazing skin. Pores most people kill for. Just completely irresistible to most forms of marine life. The bigger question is, “Why am I not constantly getting stung by jellyfish, even when I’m not in the ocean? What is keeping them away from me in the grocery store or when I’m playing jai lai?”
Once I had chopped some wood and wrestled a bear so I could forget the pain of the stings, two activities I regularly do to offset the lack of manliness my unbelievable skin generates, I forgot all about the jellyfish.
Until the aquarium.
I saw a trio of jellyfish floating in the water and the first thought I had was one I was not expecting,
“The world didn’t have to be beautiful.”
Have you ever thought about that?
Jellyfish didn’t need to look like canopied dreams, flying underwater with a grace that shames ballet dancers.
Sunsets didn’t have to look like paint sets exploded against the wall, slowly falling down the horizon.
The tide on this planet didn’t need to dance with the pull of a glowing sphere thousands of miles away.
God didn’t have to make the world beautiful.
He could have designed sunsets like we designed light switches. On, off. He could have been utilitarian. Function meets function with form nowhere to be found. Instead, the deeper we explore the planet, the more we see the creativity he’s whimsically hidden on every inch.
Fish that provide their own light. Slugs that are neon and fireworked. Hundreds of species of butterflies migrating thousands of miles on wings that are gossamer thin. He’s playful in his design, curious and colorful in ways we can barely scratch the surface of.
Though we often paint God in two colors, “gray” and “angry,” the more I see the world, the harder it is for me to think he’s vanilla.

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May 18th, 2012

Where Are the Authors?

Where are the authors? The world of children’s literature today is often fraught with rubbish or, at best, “neutral” stories for children. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with many of these “neutral” stories (and indeed some of them are truly delightful and wonderful stories we grew up with), where are those who will be brave and daring and set a standard and write Reformed books for children?—storybooks for us to read to our little boys and our little girls?—storybooks of godly family life?—history books that are unafraid to tell history accurately and point out the Providences of God?—biographies of great Christian men and women?—books that are willing to take the fundamental and absolute authority of the Word of God as the fundamental and absolute starting point for children’s literature?
Where are the Authors? Are they nowhere to be found? Is there no one who will advance the Standard of God in the arena of modern children’s literature? “The battle is won or lost in the high chair.”—While this quote is referring specifically to child training, the principle behind it also applies to literature: what we feed our children’s minds when they are young is one of the greatest contributors to the shaping of their character as adults one day.

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May 16th, 2012

Book Review: “A Word In Season,” by R.J. Rushdoony

Meant to be a sort of “devotionals,” these three volumes are a collection of articles Dr. R.J. Rushdoony wrote over a period of about 25 years for a California periodical. I’ve never really paid attention to many “devotionals” per se, so I’m afraid I can’t contrast how much more meaty they are than your typical, mainstream daily readings. But knowing who wrote them, I suspect they are far more substantial than those devotional booklets.
Dr. Rushdoony covers many, many different subjects in these books. Slander, irrelevant preaching, where true charity begins, fools, humility, happiness, fearfulness, standards, prayer, the vengeance of God, and the future—all these subjects (and many, many more) are covered in these little books of about 140–150 pages each.
I think these books would be great for a father to read over dinner. This would also enable him to explain these lessons to younger children who might not normally understand the writing. Highly recommended.
AGE RANGE: The recommended age range would probably start with young men and ladies in their early teens sometime, but I would have no problem letting my children read them as early as they can comprehend the subject matter—and if a dad is reading them to the family, he can explain the principles in simpler terms to younger children.

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May 10th, 2012

C.S. Lewis on God’s Omnipotence

I have been reading a decent amount of C.S. Lewis lately in an effort to study his theology and worldview. As I do with all authors, I agree and disagree with Lewis on certain issues to varying degrees, but I appreciate what he has to say on the issue of impossibility and God’s omnipotence.

OMNIPOTENCE means ‘power to do all, or everything’. And we are told in Scripture that ‘with God all things are possible’. It is common enough, in argument with an unbeliever, to be told that God, if He existed and were good, would do this or that; and then, if we point out that the proposed action is impossible, to be met with the retort ‘But I thought God was supposed to be able to do anything’. This raises the whole question of impossibility.
In ordinary usage the word IMPOSSIBLE generally implies a suppressed clause beginning with the word UNLESS. Thus it is impossible for me to see the street from where I sit writing at this moment; that is, it is impossible to see the street UNLESS I go up to the top floor where I shall be high enough to overlook the intervening building. If I had broken my leg I should say ‘But it is impossible to go up to the top floor—meaning, however, that it is impossible UNLESS some friends turn up who will carry me. Now let us advance to a different plane of impossibility, by saying ‘It is, at any rate, impossible to see the street SO LONG AS I remain where I am and the intervening building remains where it is.’ Someone might add ‘unless the nature of space, or of vision, were different from what it is’. I do not know what the best philosophers and scientists would say to this, but I should have to reply ‘I don’t know whether space and vision COULD POSSIBLY have been of such a nature as you suggest.’ Now it is clear that the words COULD POSSIBLY here refer to some absolute kind of possibility or impossibility which is different from the relative possibilities and impossibilities we have been considering. I cannot say whether seeing round corners is, in this new sense, possible or not, because I do not know whether it is self-contradictory or not. But I know very well that if it is self-contradictory it is absolutely impossible. The absolutely impossible may also be called the intrinsically impossible because it carries its impossibility within itself, instead of borrowing it from other impossibilities which in their turn depend upon others. It has no unless clause attached to it. It is impossible under all conditions and in all worlds and for all agents.
‘All agents’ here includes God Himself. His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it’, you have not succeeded in saying ANYTHING about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can’. It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.

Lewis, C.S., The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 16–18.

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May 5th, 2012

Movie Review: “Hugo”

After his clockmaker father perishes in a museum fire, Hugo goes to live with his Uncle Claude, a drunkard who maintains the clocks at a Paris train station. When Claude disappears, Hugo carries on his work and fends for himself by stealing food from area merchants. In his free time, he attempts to repair an automaton his father rescued from the museum, while trying to evade the station inspector, a World War I veteran with no sympathy for lawbreakers. When Georges, a toymaker, catches Hugo stealing parts for his mechanical man, he recruits him as an assistant to repay his debt. If Georges is guarded, his open-hearted ward, Isabelle, introduces Hugo to a kindly bookseller, who directs them to a motion-picture museum, where they meet film scholar René. In helping unlock the secret of the automaton, they learn about the roots of cinema, starting with the Lumière brothers, and give a forgotten movie pioneer his due, thus illustrating the importance of film preservation, a cause to which the director has dedicated his life. If Scorsese’s adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret isn’t his most autobiographical work, it just may be his most personal.” — from

Hugo had me from the beginning. Hugo Cabret is a young boy, an orphan, who lives alone in a train station in Paris. He’s intrigued with and enjoys fixing mechanisms—gears, springs, teeny screws; and his father, before tragically passing away, obtained an old automaton—a mechanical man—and spent time with his son working to restore the robot.
But a terrible disaster happens, and now Hugo is alone—until a young book-loving girl, Isabelle, befriends him and they work together to repair the automaton. Neither Hugo nor Isabelle know it, but one of the great pioneers of movie production is living right under their noses. Together the two uncover the wondrous history of this man and bring the proper recognition to him that he deserves.
From a production standpoint, Hugo is an astonishingly colorful film. Blues and yellows, turquoise, reds, silver: every single frame from the film is a beautiful tapestry. The cinematography is excellent as well, and the storyline and characters are compelling and endearing.
Hugo is, in short, a visual treat and a wonderful story.
INDECENCY: Very little. Some of the very old films pictured have rather immodest women. A man makes a comment regarding possible infidelity—but this is so quick that, unless you have subtitles on, it will likely be missed by anyone not looking for it—especially children.
LANGUAGE: Surprisingly, none.
AGE RANGE: Family-friendly.

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