Top 10 Shameful Events in American History

According to Listverse, here are the Top 10 Shameful Events in American History. What do you think?

10.  Bipartisan Politics

9.  The Scopes “Monkey” Trial

8.  Medals of Honor at Wounded Knee

7.  The Civil War

6.  Organized Crime

5.  Preston Brooks’s Assault on Charles Sumner

4.  Racism and Its Crimes

3.  The Salem Witch Trials

2.  Slavery

1. The Usurpation of Land from American Indians

In memoriam: Athanasius (c. 296-373)

via Wikipedia

Athanasius, the famous Alexandrian bishop and theologian, died on this date in AD 373. Best known for his resistance to Arianism in the years following the Council of Nicaea (325), Athanasius was one of the key theological voices shaping Christian orthodoxy, particularly its understanding of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. Athanasius is also famous for being the first to provide a definitive list of New Testament books in his Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter. For these reasons, and many others, Adrian Fortescue is probably correct to say that Athanasius was “the first and, without question, the greatest of the Greek Fathers.”

To commemorate the day, here’s an excerpt from his On the Incarnation:

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to shew loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. (On the Incarnation 8.1-2).

For other good resources on Athanasius, check out these links:

Flotsam and jetsam (5/2)

The classroom should be a consecrated place—a dedicated space for attending to ideas not normally addressed as ardently elsewhere. Strange, good, and serendipitous things happen there. Questions are newly formed, puzzlement gives way to intellectual pursuit, and insights arrive serendipitously. On the other hand, even after earnest preparations, professors can be greeted with vacant stares, wandering eyes, stupefied silences, or irritatingly inept comments. We struggle to win, keep, and enrich our students’ attention.
The great untold truth of libraries is that people need them not because they’re about study and solitude, but because they’re about connection.
  • Justin Taylor reports on a recent roundtable of pastors asked how they would explain the gospel in two different contexts. And, he shares the following story that Mark Stiles often uses when witnessing to Muslims.
Two men went to the mosque to pray. One was a rich man, the other a poor man. The rich man went through his libations and prayers as he did five times a day. As he was praying, he began to have a sexual fantasy about the young wife who lived next door to his home. But he finished his prayers and went home. The poor man stood off at a distance. He came so infrequently to the mosque, that he couldn’t remember the positions for prayer or his libations. But he looked up to heaven, beat his breast, and said, “Forgive me, O Lord, for I’m a sinner.” Who went home justified? [Mr Stiles says that every Muslim he has asked this question has answered “The rich man.”]

We do not have to choose between retributive and restorative schemes of divine justice. The righteousness that brings judgment also fills the universe with God’s shalom….There can be no reconciliation without recompense otherwise the disorder, destruction, and decay of evil prevents peace from lasting. The incarnation and the cross achieve both: juridical judgment and relational peace wrought in the atonement.

A prayer for Sunday (Catherine of Siena)

[Catherine of Siena's feast day was a couple of days ago (April 29), so it seems appropriate for today's Sunday prayer to come from her.]

Holy Spirit, come into my heart; draw it to Thee by Thy power, O my God, and grant me charity with filial fear. Preserve me, O ineffable Love, from every evil thought; warm me, inflame me with Thy dear love, and every pain will seem light to me. My Father, my sweet Lord, help me in all my actions. Jesus, love, Jesus, love. Amen.

Words are like leaves, and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.

~Alexander Pope

(HT @tomascol via Twitter)

Congratulations Th.M. Graduates!!

Graduations are bittersweet. On the one hand, I love celebrating what God has done in and through the lives of our incredible students. And, I’m always excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for them. But, on the other hand, it’s always a bit sad to say goodbye. And, that’s doubly true for me with our Th.M. students since they’re the ones that I get to work most closely with.

At Western Seminary‘s graduation ceremony today, we got to celebrate the achievements of three of our Th.M. students. They’ve all done a great job in the program, and have some outstanding possibilities before them.

  • Adam Bottiglia. Adam has done an outstanding job working through his Th.M. in theology.  With a wide range of writing and research interests (in addition to running his yo-yo company), Adam could have gone in several different directions after his program. But, he had to pick one. So, this fall he’ll be headed to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he will be doing doctoral work in church history with Dr. John Woodbridge.
  • Billy Cash. In addition to finishing a Th.M. in theology, Billy has served as my grad fellow for the last two years. So, I’m particularly sad to see him go, since now I need to train a new grad fellow. Billy’s done a particularly fine job with his studies in systematic and historical theology, for which he received the Church History Award and the Kerr Award in Theology at today’s ceremony.  Billy and his wife are currently looking at a couple of options for next year, including pursuing doctoral studies in systematic theology.
  • Dave Barnhart. I’m always excited when a student pursues a Th.M. in order to deepen their ministry in and for the local church. And, Dave stands as an excellent example of this desire. While working on his Th.M., Dave has also been serving as a full-time missions pastor at a church in Montana. So, he’s had to write his thesis around his various ministry responsibilities and in-between his trips all over the world. I’m never sure where Dave is at any particular moment, but I know he’s doing ministry somewhere. And, having completed his Th.M., I know that he’ll continue to serve the church faithfully as he has for so many years.

Outstanding students, godly leaders, and really nice guys. It’s sad to see them go, but exciting to see where they’re headed.

Congratulations! Our prayers go with you.

The Power and Pain of Hitting “Delete”


I’m starting to hate that word. Today marks the beginning of editing my way through my Gospel book to get a couple of chapters ready to shop around (more on that later). Since I’ve been over the early chapters a few times already, I thought they’d be pretty set by now.

I was wrong.


Instead, I’m making far more changes this time around than ever before. And I’m okay with that. They are good changes and I think they’re making the writing clearer and more focused. That’s not the problem.
The problem is that I’m finding that I need to get rid of stuff I really like. As I’m discovering, that’s one of the keys of editing. It doesn’t always matter whether something is good. Every section exists to serve the whole. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.
For example, here’s a paragraph that I  used at the beginning of one chapter.
Like many kids, I used to assemble models—airplanes, cars, boats, etc. At least, that’s what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t very good at it. The kits came with complete instructions, but I didn’t have the patience to read them very carefully. Instead, I’d look at the box to get a general idea of how the finished product should look, and then I’d start working—this piece probably goes here; that one sort of fits over there; just push a little harder; some extra glue will help; probably didn’t need that piece anyway; I can cover that with some paint. You can imagine how my models generally turned out. Several frustrating hours later, I’d have something that looked like it belonged in a post-apocalyptic horror movie—a bad one.
I like that paragraph. I like the image of a small child hunched over a basement table trying desperately to jam mismatched model pieces together. I like the rhythm of the various clauses. And, I like how it led into a section on the ways we mess things up when we act without knowing the plan (i.e. the Gospel).
Unfortunately, that isn’t really what the chapter is about. Close, but not quite. Consequently, it introduces a thought that isn’t developed anywhere in the chapter. As much as I like it, then, it needs to go. I may be able to use it somewhere else, though I need to be careful about forcing it in just because I like it. For now, it needs to go.
Good writing in the wrong place is bad writing.

And, of course, this is true for any kind of writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a high school book report, a seminary research paper, or a book on the Gospel. Every piece exists to serve the whole. If it doesn’t, then it actually weakens the whole. Get rid of it. Even if you worked really hard on it, you have all kinds of research to support it, and you think it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Be ruthless. If doesn’t fit, get rid of it. Your paper (and your readers) will appreciate it.

Hit delete. It hurts. But, it’s a good hurt.

[By the way, I don't actually delete sections like this. I copy them into another document for future possible use. But writing a post on "The Power and Pain of Copying and Pasting Text into Another Document for Later Use" just didn't have the same ring.]

What have you enjoyed reading recently?

As a self-confessed bibliophile, I’m always open to suggestions. And, I’d love to hear about what you’re reading. So, what have you enjoyed reading recently (any genre)?

To get things started, here are a few of mine:

What about you? What have you read over the last few months that you really enjoyed?

Saturday morning fun…Existential Star Wars

What would Stars have been like if Jean Paul Sartre had written the script? Here’s your chance to find out.

Mac people vs. PC people – an infographic