Published December 31st, 2015 by

As I sat down to make resolutions for 2016, I remembered this sobering quote by John Goldingay from the book, I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship. He reminds me that I’m seeking a “better country,” beyond 2016 and this present age.

Here it is and it’s not for the squeamish:

Americans like to believe in legacies; I expect to be forgotten, in fulfillment of Ecclesiastes’ warning. I know that individual students gain from classes I teach and from books that I write… but in general my work makes no significant contribution to the life of the church or to the purposes of God in the world.

Read the rest
Published December 21st, 2015 by

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, last night, in 3-D.

I am not a Star Wars, Sci-fi or fantasy geek. I have been an audio geek and a Bible nerd, but I don’t know if geek or nerd are appropriate labels, if you are enthusiastic about one of the most popular and lucrative entertainment franchises in the history of the world. I tend to associate geeks and nerds with outsider movements. Anyway, I’ve been pretty hard on hardcore Star Wars fans in the past (see my take at Star Wars: It Really Matters What You Believe). But, I’m no hater and have the greatest love and respect for the franchise. … Read the rest

Published December 19th, 2015 by

Many men wish their handwriting was better and I’m one of them. This primer, How to Improve Penmanship, at The Art of Manliness, “will teach you everything you need to know about improving your cursive penmanship.” At least, that’s their claim. I have this notion that by training my mind, eyes, and hands to improve my penmanship, other skills I’m cultivating will follow. There are indications that writing by hand improves your cognitive abilities, but I’m hoping my art and creative writing will also benefit. We shall see. One specific writing skill I would like to acquire is the draftsman or architectural style of writing.… Read the rest

Published December 2nd, 2015 by

12314707_10156495045285314_7032931350319123767_oThis past week, I came to the realization that I’m probably not a coffee drinker. I like coffee drinks or drinks made with coffee, but not coffee by itself. My wife Denise roasts beans for us and does a great job. We have electric and hand burr grinders, a french press outfit, pour-over device, an aeropress, and a Cuisinart drip coffee maker. Until recently, we had a Krupps espresso maker. So, there’s no excuse for my not being a true coffee drinker — I have only my own taste buds to blame.

How did I come to this shocking realization? A couple weeks ago, I decided to start drinking my coffee black and enjoy the essence of the bean without admixture or adulteration of the ebony nectar by dairy products and sweeteners.… Read the rest

Published November 11th, 2015 by

I have to concur with the writer, that “racking up mile after mile is difficult, mind-expanding, and hypnotic—just like putting words down on a page.” But, it’s also energizing and freeing to be out on the road, around town or through the woods, working out ideas and problems, step by step, mile by mile.

Freedom, consciousness, and wildness: Running offers writers escape with purpose. When confronted with “structural problems” in her writing as the result of a “long, snarled, frustrating and sometimes despairing morning of work,” Joyce Carol Oates would ease her writing blocks with afternoon runs. For Oates and many other writers, running is process and proves especially useful for the type of cloistered, intensive work they do.

Read the rest
Published September 28th, 2015 by

One of the advantages of my defective and desultory education is a lifetime of discovery and learning! Kudos to the California educational system of the 60’s, leftist news organizations of the 70’s and the vacuous popular culture of the 80’s. (I suppose I should admit that I wasn’t a very enthusiastic learner in those days — it’s not like I was a total victim)

Along the way, I learned that , contrary to nearly everything I was ever taught on the subject of race or saw editorialized in the pop-press, that in the 26 major civil rights votes since 1933, Democrats opposed civil rights in 80% of votes, while Republicans joined the majority in favoring civil rights in over 96% of the votes.… Read the rest

Published September 13th, 2015 by

IMG_6290I’ve watched boys writhing in the pews and struggling to pay attention for years, as the preacher plows through the text, turning over the soil of the soul. Sometimes the man behind the music stand or pulpit is me.

Other boys get down on their knees, but not to pray. They face a chair with a pencil up and press their noses down close to a piece of paper or a flyer for some church event or a bulletin or a sketch pad, rendering caricatures of superheroes or Transformers or stock cars. Older boys may read an appropriate novel. Some do their homework, while others game away on a device of some kind.… Read the rest

Published May 25th, 2015 by

This was something I posted back  in 2005 and I thought it might be worthwhile to look back to where we’ve been and see how far we’ve come.

It has long been a dream of mine to redecorate our home in a modern theme, but it looks like that will have to wait for another 5-10 years. In the interim, we have decided upon a retro look and have been scouring thrift stores, garage sales and eBay for furniture and accessories from the same era as the ribbon-cutting on our home, i.e. 1961.couch

Today, Denise, and I were leaving a disappointing garage sale, when we happened upon a young gentleman (who happpened to be from New Zealand), standing in the driveway of his new home, next to this sectional.

Read the rest
Published May 12th, 2015 by

I don’t recall memorizing, reciting or reading Robert Frost’s poems in school, while growing up in Southern California. That may seem unusual for anyone my age or older, because he was the nation’s poet laureate and all the rage in the early ’60s. He wrote a poem for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, which bound him inextricably to the times and events that many baby-boomers cling to as their coming of age.

I had, in the words of one Richard Baxter biographer, a defective and desultory education. I think it was more my fault than any deficiencies in the educational system or my teachers.… Read the rest

Published May 6th, 2015 by

leading_on_emptyLeading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro is a book for burnouts. I picked it up back in February of 2013, when I finally realized I was experiencing long-term exhaustion (the formal diagnosis). I was a classic case — I didn’t know I had arrived at burnout, until I was actually coming out of it. A friend pointed me to this text as a classic on the subject, specifically written for Christians.

The book was not overly helpful for me, because I had stumbled into solutions or had recognized and addressed many of the symptoms already. It did help me to make sense of the troubled waters I’d just passed through and gave me a few tips or reminders to get back on course.… Read the rest

Published May 5th, 2015 by

Let’s talk about Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More? Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior. Dr. Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She is also the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press 2012) and a contributing writer for Christianity TodayThe AtlanticIn Touch, Her.meneutics and Think Christian.  Ms. Prior is a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States, living out a fierce commitment to her family of dogs, horses, and chickens in rural Virginia, along with her husband, Roy.… Read the rest

Published April 28th, 2015 by

Hugh Jackman to star as the apostle Paul in high-profile Christian film | Film | The Guardian

I suppose this is exciting news for fans of Marvel Comics… and, the Bible.

From The Guardian, Jackman had this to say about his father, who is a Christian:

“He takes his religion very seriously and would prefer I go to church,” Jackman revealed. “We’ve had discussions about our separate beliefs. I just find the evangelical church too, well, restrictive.

I think the actor may be surprised to learn that many Evangelicals would agree the faith is “too, well, restrictive” and are ditching long-held teachings and practices of both Jesus and His apostles, as well as the prophets.

I think Michael Bird has the right take on this casting decision, as well as the storyline for a future project:

Personally, I’d love to see Jackman do an Apostle Paul/Wolverine re-mix, and pull out the retractable bone claws to emasculate the judaizers in Galatia!

Read the rest
Published April 10th, 2015 by

I’ve finished reading Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More? Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior. I have my own review, and I’m just about ready to push the “Publish” button. But, for now you can find this interview of the author over at The Gospel Coalition. From the biography:

Hannah More

More was born in a rapidly changing society, and her life embodies many of those changes. She was born to laboring class parents but became an early example of social mobility by rising well above her station by the end of her life. But having both lower class origins and upper class attainments gave More an opportunity to effectively reach both rich and poor and in between through her writing and her reform efforts.

Read the rest
Published February 28th, 2015 by

It’s been said that the Bible is a treasure-trove of stories that translate into great film. Last night, I watched On The Waterfront for the second or third time and finally got it: The film is chock full of Biblical themes and Christ is exalted throughout this wonderful love story!

First, On The Waterfront is a story of young love. That’s what captivated me the first time around. This ironic romance involves a disgraced boxer and union thug, Terry, and Edie, the sister of a man who was murdered for exposing corruption on the waterfront. Edie doesn’t know that Terry was the one who set up her brother, Joey.… Read the rest

Published December 21st, 2014 by

The ministerial work must be carried on purely for God and the salvation of souls… They who engage in this as a common work, to make a trade of it for their worldly livelihood, will find that they have chosen a bad trade, though a good employment. Self-denial is of absolute necessity in every Christian, but it is doubly necessary in a minister, as without it he cannot do God an hour’s faithful service. Hard studies, much knowledge, and excellent preaching, if the ends be not right is but more glorious hypocritical sinning. Reverend Richard Baxter1

I’ve been blogging off and on for years, finally arriving at this moment when I can put proverbial pen to paper, in order to recount, report and reflect upon over 30 years of formal ministry as the director of two apologetic groups, Ex-Mormons for Jesus and Jude 23, as well as serving in the role of an elder (pastor or overseer) and church planter for most of that time.… Read the rest

Published October 23rd, 2014 by

I originally wrote this post back in 2005, after being wowed by the web design of Hillman Curtis.

Wanna see something spooky… and, beautiful? Follow the hillmancurtis link. Just keep watching. And, be sure to look at his work. I heard he was moving to Nevada County, but haven’t seen him yet.

The link no longer takes you to the video that was featured back then, but a collection of his work. I just learned today that he died back in 2012 and now I’m sad.

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!

Read the rest
Published October 11th, 2014 by

Blogging is a dangerous business for the Christian to engage in: particularly when commenting on culture, politics, religion, art, humor, sexuality or other volatile subject matter.

One can come off sounding self-righteous and condescending, as I often do — being boorish. Then, there’s also guilt by association: “That’s fine coming from the religion that gave us the Inquisition, the Crusades and the Salem Witch Hunts.” From the other direction, you open yourself up to insults by, so-called Christians, who want to hunt down witches, launch a crusade against the infidels or turn you over to the inquisitors! Indeed:

Sufferings must be the Churches most ordinary lot, and Christians indeed must be self-denying Cross-bearers, even where there are none but formal nominal Christians to be the Cross-makers… Richard Baxter

I was studying Paul’s letter to the Romans and reached for Karl Barth’s classic commentary.… Read the rest