Wednesday, October 31

Atheist Tantrums

One of my favorite writers, Theodore Dalrymple, aptly quips, "To regret religion is to regret Western civilization." He has a great editorial exposing the farce of neo-Atheism in the current issue of the City Journal. In it, he surveys the bevy of new anti-religious best-sellers, noting their inevitable "sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple, with the assumption of certainty where there is none, combined with adolescent shrillness and intolerance." Its almost enough to prompt one to suddenly stand and shout "Amen," though that would likely make Dalrymple, himself a skeptic, more than a little uncomfortable.

Monday, October 29

Dead Again

Are we witnessing an Evangelical cultural and electoral crackup in America? David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times thinks so. He cites substantial evidence that the once influential Born Again demographic may be well on its way to retreating to its traditional Dead Again individualism.

Friday, October 26


Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes yet another blockbuster from our good friends on the Left Coast. According to movie critic Ted Baehr, the new film, The Golden Compass, is actually An Atheist’s Narnia. Based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy entitled His Dark Materials, the big budget fantasy won’t be released to theaters until December 7, but it is already receiving a heady dose of Hollywood’s pre-holiday hype.

According to Baehr, Pullman wrote the book “because he was so upset by the Christian evangelism of C.S. Lewis.” Thus, dedicated to undermining Christianity and the Church among young readers, he represents God as a decrepit and perverse angel “who captures the dead in a prison camp afterlife.” And things only get worse from there. Just what we all needed for Pearl Harbor Day--yet another insidious attack!

Errol Flynn's Charge

Thursday, October 25

Saint Crispin's Day

Saint Crispin and his brother Crispinian were Christians who were martyred during the persecution by the Emperor Maximian in Rome. They preached to people during the day and made shoes at night in order to earn their living. Interestingly, two of England’s greatest battles were fought on the anniversary of their feast and as a result, Saint Crispin’s Day is more immediately associated with those battles than with the saints it was intended to memorialize:

On this day in 1415, England’s King Henry V defeated the overwhelming force of the French Army in the fields of Agincourt. The stunning and unexpected turn-about inspired Shakespeare’s famous monologue:

“If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss;
And if to live, the fewer the men, the greater share of honor.
God’s will, I pray thee, wish not one man more.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;
Be he ne’er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap
Whiles any speaks that fought with us on St. Crispin’s Day.”

Then, in 1854, the Charge of the Light Brigade took place during the Crimean War. It was the climax of Battle of Balaklava. The battle which has been long regarded as one of the most famous military blunders in history--yet, provided great inspiration for the courage and tenacity of the troops.

The Light Brigade consisted of five regiments totaling 661 men. The men were ordered to attack a well-entrenched Russian force—it was a certain slaughter but due to confused communications and conflict within the officer corps, the men advanced into a withering line of fire. Amazingly, despite heavy casualties, the men achieved their objective. The charge lasted no more than 20 minutes. When the brigade was mustered afterwards, there were only 195 mounted men left.

Though the maneuver was a complete disaster, General Liprandi was deeply impressed by the stature and composure of the prisoners. The moral effect on the Russians of the discipline, courage, and resolve of the Light Brigade was immense. For the rest of the war, the Russian cavalry refused combat with the British, even when vastly superior in numbers. Long afterwards, the fact that a single, under-strength brigade of light cavalry had captured a battery of guns and driven off a far larger body of Russian horses was the admiration of Europe.

This battle too, was the inspiration for great soliloquy in English literature. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Wednesday, October 24

Love Is Not Enough

During a counseling session yesterday, I reminded a friend of something he has long known, "love alone is hardly sufficient for a good marriage--only Christ and the fruits He produces in the Gospel are sufficient for such a thing." Agreeing, he in turn recalled the counsel of C.S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves. There Lewis wrote:

"William Morris wrote a poem called Love is Enough and someone is said to have reviewed it briefly with the words 'It isn't.' To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies. It is no disparagement to a garden to say that it will not fence and weed itself, nor prune its own fruit trees, nor roll and cut its own lawns. A garden is a good thing but that is not the sort of goodness it has. It will remain a garden, as distinct from a wilderness, only if someone does all these things to it."

Tuesday, October 23

Crowded Hours

There are times and seasons in life when busyness seems to crowd out all our best intentions. The belligerent insistence of "the urgent" takes over. The last few weeks have been a bit like that for me--a flurry of nagging health issues, an intensely crowded itinerary, and an onslaught of minor controversies have conspired together with my regular responsibilities to make life more than a little crazy.

A few years ago my friend Marlene Frey reminded me of Spurgeon's wise counsel--for times like these when lives are so hectic, bodies are so weary, and minds are so distracted that it seems almost impossible to have quality time with the Lord:

"Private devotions ought to be a dialogue between the soul and God: by the Scripture the Lord speaks to us, and by prayer we speak to Him. Sometimes, you know, in conversation with a friend, you have not much to say. Very well; you listen while your friend speaks. When prayer is not urgent, read your Bible, and hear what God the Lord shall speak; and when you have heard His voice, you will usually find it in your heart to pray unto Him. If the prayer be soon over, because you have expressed all your thoughts, then let the Lord speak again, and do you hearken diligently. But do speak to the Lord. Realize His presence, and then speak to Him as a man speaketh with his friend."

Wednesday, October 17

October 26th-27th: Films about Home

It is not too late! There is still room! So, please join us in historic downtown Franklin for the Third Annual King's Meadow Film and Worldview Conference. This year we will watch and discuss films about home--a sense of place, universal longing, and rootedness. In my seminar, I will discuss the Biblical concept of home and in the process will tell the continuing story of Dan and Bea--the main characters in my novel, Going Somewhere, who will feature in two sequels (someday). In addition, Greg Wilbur will  present seminars about film and worldview and we'll be treated to a premier from a fine local film maker.  Email for any questions you may have or for more information.

Tuesday, October 16

Tradition Tech

A funny thing happened on the road to music's web-armageddon. Apparently, while the internet may be killing off the pop music industry as we know it, classical music may actually have been saved. According to Alex Ross in the current issue of the New Yorker, online downloads, MP3s, blogs, googling, IMs, stubhubbing, web radio, podcasting, youtubing, and live streaming have made classical music a disproportionately influential and lucrative segment of the market.

Friday, October 12

On the Bedside Table

Answering Critics through Kingdom Giving

My friend Mike Milton, in preparation for the annual missions conference at First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, reminded me of the vital import of Great Commission investment by quoting these two Christian stalwarts of the past:

"The evangelization of the world is the only enterprise large enough and important enough to provide an adequate outlet for the Church's wealth." J. Campbell White

"Now, dear Christians, some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine. You pray to be made over in the image of Christ. If so, you must be like Him in giving. 'Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor.'" B. B. Warfield

The Threat of Creation

A resolution adopted by Europe's top human rights body last week declared that the idea of “Creationism” is a potential “threat to human rights.”

On October 4, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted 48 to 25 in support of the resolution entitled the dangers of creationism in education in which the legislative body urged its 47 constituent governments to “firmly oppose” the teaching of Creationism, arguing that such beliefs are “promoted by forms of religious extremism” seeking to “to impose religious dogma “ at the expense of children’s “education. “

“For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life,” stated the report. “Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of Creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, Creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.”

The report, which had been moderated significantly since it was first introduced a few months ago by those great champions of freedom and integrity around the world, the French Socialists, also charged Creationists with denying the validity of modern science. Indeed, “the total rejection of science,” the revolutionary do-gooders said, “is one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.” It then added that those threats came as Creationists sought to “replace democracy by theocracy.”

Of course, the European legislators did not offer any evidence whatsoever for their brazen assertions—these brave new heroes of a brave new liberty, equality, and fraternity apparently just assume that any questioning of presuppositional and dogmatic Darwinism necessitates a wild-eyed totalitarianism that has only ever existed historically in their own fevered-dreams (and in their own modernist revolutionary governments). Such lawmakers rarely allow the dumb certainties of experience to deter them from blindly pursuing their ribald ideological agendas.

As Dinesh D'Souza has argued, “This is not a time for Christians to turn the other cheek. Rather, it is a time to drive the money-changers out of the temple. The atheists and radicals no longer want to be tolerated. They want to monopolize the public square and to expel Christians from it. They want political questions like abortion to be divorced from religious and moral claims. They want to control the school curricula, so that they can promote a secular ideology and undermine Christianity. They want to discredit the factual claims of religion, and they want to convince the rest of society that Christianity is not only mistaken but also evil. They blame religion for the crimes of history and for the ongoing conflicts in the world today. In short, they want to make religion--and especially the Christian religion--disappear from the face of the earth.“

Wednesday, October 10

Monday, October 1

Poor Africa

The current issue of the New York Times, has published brilliant book review by the veteran travel writer Paul Theroux. I don't know if Tim Jeal's new biography of Henry Morton Stanley, The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer, is worth the $32 Yale University Press is asking for the volume, but the review is most assuredly a must-read--however discomfiting it may be. The first sentence alone shows why:

"Poor Africa, the happy hunting ground of the mythomaniac, the rock star buffing up his or her image, the missionary with a faith to sell, the child buyer, the retailer of dirty drugs or toxic cigarettes, the editor in search of a scoop, the empire builder, the aid worker, the tycoon wishing to rid himself of his millions, the school builder with a bucket of patronage, the experimenting economist, the diamond merchant, the oil executive, the explorer, the slave trader, the eco-tourist, the adventure traveler, the bird watcher, the travel writer, the escapee, the colonial and his crapulosities, the banker, the busybody, the Mandela-sniffer, the political fantasist, the buccaneer and your cousin the Peace Corps Volunteer."