Friday, August 29, 2008

I Shall Not Wash My Hands Nor Let Them Hang Useless

"I replaced her rings, her bracelets, her combs, before I closed the grave, and that was Lorraine. All that she had ever been or wanted to be had come to this, and that is the whole story of how we met and how we parted, Lorraine and I, in the land called Lorraine, and it is like onto my life, I guess, for a Prince of Amber is part and party to all the rottenness that is in the world, which is why whenever I do speak of my conscience, something else within me must answer, "Ha!" In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil which exists to oppose other evils. I destroy Melkins when I find them, and on that Great Day of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever . . . Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless." - Corwin of Amber (The Guns of Avalon, The Chronicles of Amber, Vol. 1, pg 208-209).

Posting Quotes

I have seen it written (I just can't remember where - maybe here or here) that posting quotes from books you are reading without providing your own commentary is bad blog etiquette. However, from the numbers of comments this blog receives (the squirrel story has more comments than the rest of the site put together) I don't think I am running too big of a risk.

Why am I writing this? See the next post.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Best Squirrel Story Ever

On Friday night, Wendy and I and two friends were driving through Elliot Park neighborhood in Minneapolis. We saw something moving across the road. I slowed down and looked carefully. A plastic cup, similar to a frappucino cup was moving across the road, pushed by a squirrel. Then we realized that the squirrel had its head stuck in the bubble lid.

It had to be hot in the cup, since it was about 85 degrees outside. The squirrel couldn't see very well, because the cup was still coated with whip cream and coffee or whatever was in the cup. I wonder if squirrels have bad breath. I bet he was wishing he had brushed his teeth that morning.

Jenny jumped out with her iPhone and took a picture. I was trying to figure out if I could save the squirrel without touching it or getting bit by it. It was moving slow enough that catching it was no problem, but they have sharp claws and it was still skittish. If I stepped on its tail and pulled the lid at the same time I might be able to save it, but it might whip around and bite me or something.

My flash decision was to simply grab the cup and yank as hard as I could, hoping the cup and lid would all come off at the same time. Without additional thought, I reached down, grabbed the cup and yanked. Squirrels are very light. There was almost no resistance at all. The squirrel went flying in the direction of my pull, but the cup stayed in my hand.

Then I realized that the cup stayed in my hand, but not the lid! By this time, the squirrel was bounding across the road and under the nearest car, clear plastic lid still stuck around its neck. It couldn't run that well, but it could now see and breath. At least I gave it a small chance to live when before it had none.

I have no idea what has happened to the squirrel. It may be able to eat, if it finds something, but I doubt that it can climb trees. It is probably easy prey for bigger urban dwellers.

Moral of the story: Don't litter! Be Green! If you don't it hurts the animals!

(Tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

Numa! Numa!

I know that this has been seen over 18,000,000 times (as of right now), but it is still hilarious - and catchy too.

Piper on Abortion

(HT: The Bethlehem Institute)

Monday, August 25, 2008


I stumbled upon a church website near my home town the other day. Here is how they described their worship:
At Journey we believe that connecting with our Savior through corporate worship is essential to our spiritual walk. We strive to provide a themed service that revolves around the scripture presented each week; incorporating drama, movie clips, contemporary worship, secular songs and symbols - all to communicate the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was also pointed to a quote from John Owen by a guest blogger on Justin Taylor's blog:
It is an innate acknowledged principle that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God unless it has a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and savor of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments; which they have called "The beauties of holiness!" [Ps. 110:3]. Thus much, however, was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God's worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let, then, the soul labor to acquaint itself with the spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be rifled with delight in them. (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen, eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, pg. 269-270)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sallow and Scrawny

Wendy and I (especially Wendy) are challenged by how to feed a family of six in a healthy way. In light of our desire to feed our family well and of the Olympics and the sallow and scrawny look of many of the athletes, I thought the following comments from Douglas Wilson quite appropriate.

One last comment. Suppose someone were to ask why I appear to be so against "healthy eating." First, I have no objection to faithful stewardship when it comes to food, and I do not believe that all foods are equal when it comes to a healthy diet. A steady diet of deep fat fried Twinkies is probably not the way to go. If your doctor tells you to knock off the coffee, Ho Ho's and cigars for breakfast, then go ahead and listen to him. But this is a spiritual issue only in terms of stewardship and general wisdom. It is not a case of spiritual defilement. People who react to an offered Dorito the way a rabbi would respond to a slice of pork roast are sinning. And secondly, as a practical observation, some of the sickliest people I know got that way through an obsessive interest in what they call healthy eating, but which obviously isn't. If they were to show up at Melzar's exam after ten days, he would slap them back on the Babylonian diet so fast it wouldn't be funny.

Daniel and his friends were willing to put it to the test. Let's take three groups of kids, and let's look closely at what they eat for ten days. One group watches television constantly, one hand on the remote and the other in a bag of Cheetos. The second group is languishing on a diet of tofu and rice. The last group is fed on what we might call a common sense American mom suburban diet -- Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast, PB&J's for lunch, a couple of cookies after school, and a well-rounded dinner (meat, potatoes, veggies), with a little ice cream for dessert. On the eleventh day, let's have them all run around the block.

I'll put my kids up against your tofu and rice eating kids any day.

(HT: Douglas Wilson)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Loose Threads

One of the things that makes a story a good story is when all the loose threads are tied up in the end. A story that weaves an intricate tapestry but leaves many threads untied at the end is not satisfying. When all loose ends are tied up and everything is accounted for, then the tapestry (or the story) is that much more beautiful and satisfying.

If one considers all of history -- redemption history -- a story, then it seems reasonable to hope that all the threads of human history will be tied up nicely a the end. I believe that God, as the premier storyteller, will make sure that all the loose ends are tied up. In other words, the reason for cancer, wars, car accidents, theft, betrayal, tsunamis, hurricanes, plane crashes, crib death, drugs, and a million other sufferings will be beautifully explained and satisfying by the time we read the last page.

To live this life believing in anything else would lead me, at least, to despair.

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:8-11)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Centripetal Force on our Planet

I have been reading The Brothers Karamazov, and was struck by a sentence. Ivan, the atheist brother, is talking with Alyosha, the hero of the story who is a monk. He says, “The centripetal force on our planet is still fearfullly strong, Alyosha.” He is speaking in the context of his love for life despite “logic” which tells him there is no order to the universe. It is after this discourse that Ivan launches into the two most famous chapters of the book, “Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor,” where he argues against God.

In my mind, one of the main jobs of the preacher is to counter-act the “centripetal force of this planet” by proclaiming a Jesus that has a stronger pull. If people don’t see a Jesus that has a greater pull on their wants, their desires, their souls, then the force of this world will ultimately draw them into the center. As I drove in to the office this morning my longing was to see Jesus more clearly, to delve into his words and actions and better understand him. I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and wrestle with both the tough and the tender, to see how his turns of a phrase, how his quotations of the OT and how his insight speaks clearly to me in a world of iPhones and skyscrapers and high gas prices. I want the gravitational pull of the son to overcome the centripetal force of this world!

Abortion is About God

A new curriculum will be available August 2008 from The Bethlehem Institute

Title: Abortion Is About God: Reframing a Moral Issue

Short Description: "Abortion Is About God: Reframing a Moral Issue" is a six-week Sunday School curriculum advancing the truth that the deepest evil of abortion is that it defies God¹s supremacy over life in the womb. The course will aim to provide a biblical and theological foundation for the pro-life cause. Moreover, the course will aim to bring a God-centered perspective to bear on this contested issue. In addition to asserting that abortion is fundamentally an offense to the glory of the Creator, the curriculum will celebrate the sovereignty of God over all of life, will lift up the good gifts of children and parenthood, and will proclaim the mercy freely offered to all through the gospel. Students will gain a deeper understanding of this issue by closely examining key biblical passages, answering provocative questions, and considering sermons and writings from the ministry of John Piper. It is our prayer that this course would be used by God to awaken the church afresh to the horror of abortion as a belittling of the glory of God and an assault on those made in His image.

About the curriculum: New TBI Curriculum - Abortion Is About God New TBI Curriculum - Abortion Is About God

Annotated Table of Contents: CURRICULUM: Abortion is About God - TOC CURRICULUM: Abortion is About God - TOC

Evolution and Entropy

Sunday morning, on our way to church, we drove down Highway 96 and I contemplated the median. The curbed median had been landscaped, with trees and flowers and shrubbery and barkdust. The flowers were in bloom, reds, purples, yellows and oranges. And weeds. The weeds were clearly moving in on the flowers and attempting to assert their control over the median.

A few more hundred feet down the road and a right turn on to Highway 10. We were passing an older military base that had been shut down years before, I suppose during the Clinton era. The driveway and parking lot were cracked and broken, with weeds growing up there, too. The windows were dirty and broken. Open holes in glass staring back at me. The brick walls of the building looked worn out and in need of a cleaning.

What struck me is how normal it is for things like medians and old buildings to go from pristine and beautiful to cracked, broken down, and old. And it doesn’t take very long for this to happen either. If we leave something in a box for twenty years, there is no guarantee that it will work just right when we pull it back out again.

If it is so normal for all things around us to move from order to chaos, or from good shape to worse shape, why would we imagine that one or two cell organisms would eventually become human beings? Does adding a million years to the process help?