A Prayer for Sunday (G. K. Chesterton)

chestertonGilbert Keith Chesterton was a famous English writer and thinker, probably best known for his detective stories and his apologetic works, particularly his influential Orthodoxy. Writing during a time when the church faced significant challenges from the rising “modernism” of the early twentieth century, Chesterton encouraged many to retain a high view of Christian theology and its ability to answer its critics and deal with the most difficult questions of life.

G. K. Chesterton died on June 14, 1936. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

O God of earth and altar,
…..Bow down ahd hear our cry;
Our earthly rulers falter,
…..Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
…..The swords of scorn divide;
Take not thy thunder from us,
…..But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
…..From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
…..That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
…..Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
…..Deliver us, good Lord!

Saturday Morning Fun…When Time Travelers Review Books

You have to love an author with a sense of humor. The following is a comment that Patrick Rothfuss left at Goodreads upon discovering that hundreds of people had given his next book a 5-star rating despite the fact that he hasn’t finished it yet!

While it’s nice to see folks out there giving this book five stars, and in some cases even reviewing it, I’ll admit that I’m kinda puzzled.

After thinking it over for a while, I’ve realized there’s only one explanation for this:

Time travelers love my books.

This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.

I would also like to say, future readers, that I appreciate your taking time to read and review my books. It’s really flattering knowing that even with time-travel technology at your disposal, you’d rather read my stuff and mention it here on goodreads, rather than, say, hunt dinosaurs, get drunk with da Vinci, or pants Hitler.

Secondly, I’d like to say if you’re The Doctor, and you’re reading this, I would make an excellent traveling companion. I know you normally tend to hang out with pretty young women and robot dogs. And honestly? I respect that.

Still, I bring certain things to the table. Humor, witty banter, and a beard that will allow me to blend in seamlessly with any pre-industrial Germanic culture. I’m also an excellent kisser and play a mean game of Settlers of Catan.

Just throwing it out there.

Lastly, if any of you happen to have a digital copy of the book you’d like to e-mail me, I’d really appreciate it. I’d love to see the five-star version of the book, because right now, the one I’m toiling away at is about a three an a half-in my opinion. It would save me a lot of work if I could just skip to the end and publish it.

Sincerely yours,

pat

Fabulous World Cup Commercial

If you’re excited about the World Cup, or if you’d just like to see people do cool stuff with a soccer ball, here you go!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smh0QXSmF-A

Being More Gracious than Jesus

What should we do with the seemingly impossible demands of the Sermon on the Mount? The lofty character of the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:2-12), the expectation of pure attitudes and not simply moral actions (Mt. 5:21-47), the impossible ideal of divine perfection (Mt. 5:48). What do we do with all these demands and commands? Should we ignore them, explain them away, embrace them with all their implied perfectionism, or something else entirely?

Nobody's Perfect Concept

This is the question that Scot McKnight wrestles with at the beginning of his excellent new commentary Sermon on the Mount (Zondervan, 2013). Like all the volumes in The Story of God Bible Commentary, McKnight’s book focuses on connecting the truth of the text with the everyday world in which we all live. And he starts strong with this book, quickly raising some good questions for those who want to place the “demands” of the Sermon inside a broader framework of grace. Although he’s clearly sympathetic to this approach, he’s aware that it can come with some major drawbacks.

Continue Reading…

Perfectionism Will Ruin Your Writing

“I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

writingBesides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California). Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground–you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird (Anchor, 1994), pp. 28-29.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/9)

danger

Good Reads

  • 4 Principles on Prayer from Saint Augustine:  The first rule is completely counterintuitive. Augustine wrote that before anyone can turn to the question of what to pray and how to pray it, he or she must first be a particular kind of person. What kind is that? He writes: “You must account yourself ‘desolate’ in this world, however great the prosperity of your lot may be.” (Tim Keller)
  • Punching Down: If the Christian community is visibly hostile to marginalized groups in the face of legitimate harm, we’ve screwed up our whole mission; if the only people we can be seen as walking with consistently are just like us, we’re no better than our pagan ancestors. (Elizabeth Stoker)
  • Hell Is a Myth — Actually, a Bunch of Myths: The sad truth is that Dante’s hellish vision has been useful in promoting colonizing, crusades and “conversions” for the last 700 years. But it is time for that to change. It is time for Christians, and all people of faith, to re-imagine the afterlife in less medieval terms. (HuffPo)

Other Info

Just for Fun

  • Could you win $10 on Jimmy Kimmel’s latest game? I’m pretty sure that I’d have blown it too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xh3z_c4JHk

The Existential Angst of Finishing a Good Book

I have always loved Mo Willems’ We Are in a Book!, which is about the existential crisis Elephant and Piggie go through when they realize that they are characters in a book that will soon end. But I never noticed (until I saw in on Imgur) that you can excerpt certain pages and recreate the existential angst than many of us experience when we’re nearing the end of a good book.

Oddly, I don’t usually have the same experience when I’m grading.

book ends 1book ends 2book ends 3book ends 4book ends 5book ends 6book ends 7book ends 8

A Prayer for Sunday (St. Ephrem)

ephrem the syrianSaint Ephrem the Syrian was a leader and theologian of the fourth century church, best known for his tremendous literary output. One of the most significant Syrian Christians in the history of the church, Ephrem wrote many influential hymns, commentaries, and other works, a particularly impressive accomplishment given that he lived through that turbulent century marked by the theological dissension following the Council of Nicea and the non-stop warfare between the Roman and Persian empires.

St. Ephrem is believed to have died on June 9, 373. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

Blessed be he who in his love stooped to redeem mankind!
Blessed be the King who made himself poor to enrich the needy!
Blessed be he who came to fulfil
…..the types and emblems of the prophets!
Blessed be he who made creation rejoice
…..with the wealth and treasure of his father!
Blessed be he whose glory the dumb sang with hosannas!
Blessed be he to whom little children sang new glory
…..in hymns of praise!
Blessed be the new King who came
…..that new-born babes might glorify him!
Blessed be he unto whom children brought faltering songs
…..to praise him among his disciples!

Flotsam and jetsam (6/6)

hipster

Good Reads

  • The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy & What Can We Do about It?: I’ve heard people call it a famine. A famine of knowing the Bible. During a famine people waste away for lack of sustenance. Some people die. Those who remain need nourishment; they need to be revived. And if they have any hope of remaining alive over time, their life situation has to change in conspicuous ways. (Biola Magazine)
  • Is pulpit plagiarism on the rise? Some blame the Internet:  Recent cases of high-profile pastors who have been accused of lifting others’ material are raising questions about whether pulpit plagiarism is on the rise — and whether it has become a more forgivable sin. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
  • Bonhoeffer and Technopoly: It is with these obligations to the coming generation in mind, I think, that we are to consider how to respond to the powers that reign in our world. (Alan Jacobs)

Continue Reading…

The Wonder of a Good Book

Woman reading inside a huge book

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. t/hey show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life—wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean. Aren’t you?”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird (Anchor, 1994), p. 15.

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