Saturday, June 27

The New Barbarism

"We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles." Hilaire Belloc

Friday, June 26

Supremely Wrongheaded

The Supreme Court has a long history of brazen, wicked, deadly injustice: Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, Buck v. Bell in 1927, and Roe v. Wade in 1973 immediately come to mind.

The Biblical Worldview

A shorthand summation of the Biblical worldview in just four verses:

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)


I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

The kingdom of this world is the kingdom of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

Monday, June 8

"How Far Is It to Bethlehem?" A Hymn by Frances Chesterton


How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable-room
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child?
Is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch,
May we go in?

May we stroke the creatures there —
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand,
Will He awake?
Will He know we've come so far
Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts,
And we have naught;
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.

For all weary children
Mary must weep;
Here, on His bed of straw,
Sleep, children, sleep.

God, in His mother's arms,
Babes in the byre,
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart's desire.

Saturday, April 18

The Great Escape: Every Advantage for Every Need

By 1941, two years into WWII, large numbers of British and Allied Airmen had been downed and captured behind enemy lines, held in Nazi POW camps. The Crown began casting about for ways to facilitate their escape.

Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end would be accurate maps. But, paper maps had any number of drawbacks: they can be cumbersome; they make a lot of noise when you fold and unfold them; they wear out rapidly; and if they get wet, they become unreadable. So, MI-5 proposed the idea of printing maps on silk--durable, compressible, and silent.

At the time, the only British manufacturer that had perfected the technology of printing on silk was John Waddington, in Leeds. It just so happened that Waddington was also the UK Licensee for the popular board game, Monopoly. And, board games qualified for insertion into packages dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

In a securely guarded old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of employees, sworn-to-secrecy, began mass-producing the escape maps. They were then folded and inserted into hollowed-out Monopoly playing tokens.

While they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's added: a token, containing a small compass, others with screw-together parts for a metal file, and useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German and French currency, hidden in the piles of Monopoly money.

Before taking off on their missions, Allied air crews were taught how to identify the rigged Monopoly sets--by means of a tiny red dot, having the appearance of an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the get-out-of-jail-free square. Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWs who successfully escaped from Nazi captivity, more than a third succeeded with the aid of the rigged Monopoly sets.

RAF Commander Colin Alexander who led 31 fellow prisoners to freedom in 1943, said the Monopoly sets proved to be, “the Swiss army knives of the war.” Indeed, he said, “In the most unlikely of ways, they had afforded us every advantage for our every need.”

Monday, April 13

Design Trend: Snappy Campaign Logos

With so much at stake and so much money invested, is any wonder that fledgling presidential campaigns give so much attention to their imaging? 2016 is likely to be a social media/new media extravaganza--and thus, the design of logos and imaging will be more important than ever before. And that is already in evidence at this early stage--as these new marks demonstrate.



Wednesday, March 18

Morning Light in the Library

“A quiet library in the early morning--there's just nothing quite as wonderful. All possible words and ideas are there, resting peacefully.” Haruki Murakami

Tuesday, March 17

Thomas Chalmers (March 17, 1780 - May 31, 1847)

“There is not, of course, any difficulty in explaining the indifference of the modern secular mind to Chalmers, neither is it surprising that churchmen of liberal persuasion should lack enthusiasm for his memory. What is more problematical is the question why evangelical Christianity itself should have made so little of him these many years.” Iain Murray

“To know Chalmers is to love him, and to wish to be like him. Those to whom the cause of Christ is dear can but seek that a double portion of his spirit should be upon them.” Adam Philip

“What I thirst to read is Chalmers’ life….I cannot conceive of a wiser, greater or better man. Every part of his character was colossal; he had the heart of twenty men; the head of twenty men; the energy of a hundred. He has not left his equal in the world.” John Mackintosh

“He had the greatest concern for the nation, as well as well as for the Church, and it is an immense gain to a Churchman when he has such an interest in the State as keeps his ethics from becoming ecclesiastically narrow in range.” Principal R.G. Denney

“He answered all one’s young notions, and more, of what ‘greatness’ might be….Scotland was but a platform to and fro on which there walked a Chalmers.” Professor L.T. Masson

“You ask me to tell you about Dr. Chalmers. I must tell you first, then, that of all men he is the most modest and speaks with undissembled gentleness and liberality of those who differ from him in opinion. Every word he says has the stamp of genius; yet the calmness, ease and simplicity of his conversation is such that to ordinary minds he might appear and ordinary man.” Mrs. A.G Grant

“Truly I consider him as raised up by God for a great and peculiar work. His depth of thought, origionality in illustrating and strength in stating are unrivalled in the present day. In other respects he is too sanguine. He does not sufficiently see that a Chalmers is necessary to carry into effect the plans of a Chalmers." Charles Simeon

“It was his contagious ‘enthusiasm for humanity’ that invested him in the eyes of students, as well as congregations, broad Scotland over, classes and masses alike, with an admiring reverence assigned to one of the old Prophets of Israel.” J.R. Macduff


“During his life of sixty-seven years, Chalmers gave forty-four years of public service. Twenty of these he spent as a minister in three parishes—twenty-four he spent as a professor in three different chairs.” Adam Philip

Patrick: Missionary to Ireland

Several years ago, I wrote this little piece for Ligonier Ministry's very fine Table Talk magazine. Here it is again on this St. Patrick's Day:

Patrick of Ireland was a younger contemporary of Augustine of Hippo and Martin of Tours—the fifth century heroes of the faith who laid the foundations for the great civilization of Christendom. He was apparently born into a patrician Roman family in one of the little Christian towns near present day Glasgow—either Bonavern or Belhaven. Although his pious parents, Calphurnius and Conchessa, nurtured him in the Christian faith, he later confessed that he much preferred the passing pleasures of sin. One day while playing by the sea as a teen, marauding pirates captured Patrick and sold him into slavery to a petty Celtic tribal king, named Milchu. During the next six years of captivity he suffered great adversity, hunger, nakedness, loneliness, and sorrow while tending his master’s flocks in the valley of the Braid and on the slopes of the Slemish.

It was amidst such dire straits that Patrick began to remember the Word of God his mother had taught him. Regretting his past life of selfish pleasure-seeking, he turned to Christ as his Savior. Of his conversion he later wrote, “I was sixteen years old and knew not the true God and was carried away captive; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and although late I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children. Every day I used to look after sheep and I used to pray often during the day, the love of God and a holy fear of Him increased more and more in me. My faith began to grow and my spirit was ardently stirred. Often, I would pray as many as a hundred times in a single day—and nearly as many at night. Even when I was staying out in the woods or on the mountain, I would rise before dawn for prayer, in snow and frost and rain. I felt no ill effect and there was no slackness in me. As I now realize, it was because the Spirit was maturing and preparing me for a work yet to come.”

Amazingly, Patrick came to love the very people who humiliated him, abused him, and taunted him. He yearned for them to know the blessed peace he had found in the Gospel of Christ. Eventually rescued through a remarkable turn of events, Patrick returned to his family in Britain. But his heart increasingly dwelt upon the fierce Celtic peoples he had come to know so well. He was stunned to realize that he actually longed to return to Ireland and share the Gospel with them.

Though his parents were grieved to see him leave home once again, they reluctantly supported his efforts to gain theological training on the continent. His classical education had been interrupted by his captivity, so he was far behind his peers academically. But what he lacked in knowledge, he made up for in zeal. Before long he had secured a warrant to evangelize his former captors.

Thus, Patrick returned to Ireland. He preached to the pagan tribes in the Irish language he had learned as a slave. His willingness to take the Gospel to the least likely and the least lovely people imaginable was met with extraordinary success. And that success would continue for over the course of nearly half a century of evangelization, church planting, and social reform. He would later write that God’s grace had so blessed his efforts that “many thousands were born again unto God.” Indeed, according to the early-church chronicler W. D. Killen: “There can be no reasonable doubt that Patrick preached the Gospel, that he was a most zealous and efficient evangelist, and that he is entitled to be called the Apostle of Ireland” (Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, London, 1875).

We know that the kingdom of heaven belongs to “those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10) and that great “blessings” and “rewards” eventually await those who have been “insulted,” “slandered,” and “sore vexed” who nevertheless persevere in their high callings (Matt. 5:12–13). We know that often it is in “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, and hunger” (2 Cor. 6:4–5) that our real mettle is proven. Nevertheless, we often forget that these things are not simply to be endured. They actually frame our greatest calling. They lay the foundations for our most effective ministries. It is when, like Patrick, we come to love God’s enemies and ours that we are set free for great effectiveness.

Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44); and again, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27). Therein is the missionary impulse. Patrick’s life provides us with a stunning reminder of that remarkable Gospel paradox.

Wednesday, March 4

Just Start

“One of the most powerful strategies for changing behavior, changing the way we think and use time was this: Just Start.” Brigid Schulte

“Sometimes it’s easier to act ourselves into a new way of thinking, than it is to think ourselves into a new way of acting.” Udaya Patnaik