Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Below are 2 photos of my friend Dennis. Click the link below the photos for his website and his story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A person I love, but who does not trust to even have his name mentioned in the blogosphere, recently taught a class on the historicity of the resurrrection of Jesus. I found a good article by one of the scholars at the forefront of this discussion today. Below is an excerpt and a link if you would like to read further.

'Man,' writes Loren Eisley,'is the Cosmic Orphan.' He is the only creature in the universe who asks, Why? Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has learned to ask questions.'Who am I?' he asks.'Why am I here? Where am I going?'
Ever since the Enlightenment, when modern man threw off the shackles of religion, he has tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible.'You are an accidental by-product of nature, the result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death. Your life is but a spark in the infinite darkness, a spark that appears, flickers, and dies forever.'
Modern man thought that in divesting himself of God, he had freed himself from all that stifled and repressed him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself.
Against this background of the modern predicament, the traditional Christian hope of the resurrection takes on an even greater brightness and significance. It tells man that he is no orphan after all, but the personal image of the Creator God of the universe; nor is his life doomed in death, for through the eschatological resurrection he may live in the presence of God forever.
This is a wonderful hope. But, of course, hope that is not founded in fact is not hope, but mere illusion.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Harry Potter

I found this great commentary on Harry Potter. It says a lot of things I have been thinking and saying in regard to one of the more embarrassing parts of "church life" I can remember over the past few years. I especially like the commentary about Calvin in the last paragraph (if you read nothing else...scroll down and read it).

Disclaimer: I am not a fan and certainly have not read all of the books...but this is primarily because I am not a huge fan of the fantasy genre. No philosophical or spiritual problems with it, I am just more interested in other genres.

This is and article written by Jerram Barrs at

A. Introduction

The Harry Potter books are an extraordinary success story in the publishing world. Over the past few years they have aroused much interest and excitement not only in the original English language editions, but also around the world as they have been translated into many other languages. Their translation into Chinese was reported to be the biggest publishing event in China’s history. The Harry Potter books strike a chord with both children and adults, and the Harry Potter movies have been released to packed theaters. The fourth book in the series had an initial print run in the U.S. of 3.8 million copies, 40 times as many as an average bestseller.
As well as being extraordinarily popular, the books have encouraged millions of children to start reading for the first time. Many parents are delighted to see their children eagerly reading these stories, and then moving on to read other books as well.

B. Attacks on Harry Potter

There have been passionate attacks on the Harry Potter series by many people and in particular by Christians. This has occurred especially in the United States — much more than in Britain or other places. In the U.S., Christians on the radio, in magazine articles, on television, on web sites, and in a growing number of books, have attacked this series very strongly. There are Christian schools where the books have been banned. I have had several telephone calls from confused parents saying, “My children love these books, I love these books — what is going on?”
Because the books bring readers into an imaginary world of magic and wizards, many Christians say they teach occult practice.
The second criticism leveled is that the books teach a rebellious attitude against authority. Critics cite the way Harry sometimes responds to his uncle and aunt who are raising him as proof of this — though it has to be said that the uncle and aunt treat him very poorly (to say the least, for they are abominably cruel guardians).
Thirdly, there are many Christians who simply say that fantasy is dangerous, and that to present this kind of fantasy world to children is automatically hazardous to them.

C. Positive Remarks Regarding Harry Potter

These books are great fun (just consider a game like Quidditch!)
J.K. Rowling has created a delightful world of the imagination. She has constructed an alternative universe, another dimension (rather like C. S. Lewis’s Narnia or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth), but, right within our world.For those who have a problem with the idea of fantasy and alternative universes - we need to recognize that almost all children play imaginative games in their minds starting at a very young age and have no difficulty whatsoever in distinguishing between fantasy and reality.
The books are well written. Try reading them aloud – this is the simplest test of good writing.
The multitude of characters in the books. J.K. Rowling has brought into being an entire portrait gallery of people, adults and also children who are growing up book by book.
Additionally, the Harry Potter books send a strong message about moral behavior.There are beautiful and enjoyable human relationships among the characters, and there is a depth of commitment and service among them.The characteristics celebrated in the relationships are friendship, loyalty, integrity, kindness, and self-sacrifice. Harry Potter himself is prepared to set aside his own success, in order to serve his friends. These are qualities in which we can all delight. There is also a very clear portrayal of the distinction between good and evil — Both the appalling destructiveness of evil to human life And the beneficial fruit of treating people with justice, kindness, mercy, faithfulness, and integrity. It is particularly significant that the books recognize that goodness and faithfulness in relationships have a cost. Virtue is rewarded primarily in terms of character development and the increasing depths of relationships among the characters, rather than through the attainment of popularity or success. J.K. Rowling also has a very deep understanding of the folly of those who turn their eyes blindly towards evil and of evil’s destructive consequences.
Finally, I see the books as valuable because they consistently include the three fundamental themes that can be found as a subtext in almost all good literature: -The beauty of creation -The appalling reality of evil -The universal human longing for redemption — for a better world -These themes touch the way the world truly is, the way God has made it

D. Themes from Harry Potter

As a Christian, I am fascinated by the fact that the stories show how a better life comes primarily through self-sacrifice. This is brought out unmistakably in the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this book Harry is prepared to sacrifice himself on behalf of his friends whom he loves and to whom he has a deep loyalty.
At the heart of all four of the books is a reference back to Harry Potter’s mother, who died when he was a baby in order to save his life from a great force of evil. Rowling says the mother’s death on Harry’s behalf is an example of the most powerful act imaginable.
Recognizing that this theme of self-sacrifice is running all through the series, it is extraordinary to me that there has been such a violent and negative response by Christians. I think this negative response is a tragedy for all sorts of reasons.
The Word of God challenges us to be prepared to celebrate anything that is good and true, wherever it is found.
There is a deep misunderstanding and inappropriate suspicion of fantasy present in the negative accusations.
There is a misunderstanding in the response to the magic in the books. The same criticisms have been made of C.S. Lewis’s and Tolkien’s books, even though both of these authors were committed Christians.
It is said that because magic is a part of the Narnia books, they may have the effect of interesting children in the reality of the occult. The same charge is brought against Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
However none of these books are encouraging occult practice. The magic is simply a part of the imaginative worlds that Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling have created. In such an imaginary world, people can become invisible; animals talk; mythical creatures like unicorns and centaurs exist; and rings and spells work wonders.
Watch a little child playing, and you will observe many such magical things. But this does not equal an interest in the occult.
Some people have gone on record as stating that they believe that J.K. Rowling is purposely and explicitly teaching occult and even Satanic practice.
As a Christian, I have to say I am profoundly ashamed of those who have responded with this kind of malicious gossip. Rowling has stated that she does not believe in the occult, and she certainly does not wish to promote it.

E. How are we to react to our culture?

Some 450 years ago John Calvin encouraged people to read books by the great writers from Greece and Rome. He wrote instructions for the teachers in the school system he designed in Geneva, Switzerland, asking that they have the students read the great classics of Greece and Rome that were pagan and non-Christian. And he asked that they not criticize them, but rather encourage the students to celebrate what is good in them, and to learn from the truth that they could find in them. Calvin said on another occasion that it is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to deny that pagan writers like Plato wrote many things that are true and helpful. We must be prepared to act similarly in our day when it comes to the Harry Potter series or any other product of our culture.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stop Now Go

Things have slowed down a bit so I will commit to at least one post per week for the time being. Even if it is only a repost of a classic (like the one below).

If you don't want to check back every day to see if I have posted, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive notification of any new posts. Cheers, and thanks for reading.


Movie Discussion: The Invasion

Movie Discussion: The Invasion
Starring, Nicole Kidman

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The movie is not a great movie. It is the 3rd remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers since 1956. Entertaining, perhaps. Brilliant, no.

We are primarily done breaking down the movie now, and ready to get busy examining some of the ideas put forth in it. Leading lady Nicole Kidman plays a psychiatrist who can prescribe a pill to solve any problem. Her son has nightmares…a pill. A patient is having trouble with her husband…a pill. You get the picture, just like a real psychiatrist. She describes herself in a pivotal conversation as a “post-modern feminist”. She also calls upon the father’s of psychology and tries to tie them to evolutionary theory in a weak attempt to explain the pathetic condition of man…war, murder, rape, greed, etc. You can tell she has trouble swallowing her own theory.

When the alien “virus” begins to infect people it becomes clear that it will make mankind into something like selfless zombies. The infected retain something of their former selves, but they act as one emotionless organism, and seek to infect everyone else, while killing those who are immune to the virus. Everyone will be sort of zombie like…that’s the downside. The upside is that wars will cease, crime will be non-existent. It becomes clear that if Nicole Kidman’s son had not been one of the immune, to be killed, she would have probably infected herself on purpose.

One thing I did like about the movie is that it fleshed out some of the primary issues in post-modern feminist thought, and postmodern thought in general. I have known a number of post-modern feminists and almost to the woman, I liked and respected them all. I think this is probably for a few reasons. First, someone who arrives at post-modern conclusions has done some thinking about life and the nature of reality and begun asking questions about how it all fits together. Second, the conclusions of post-modernism (and feminism) are impossible to consistently live out in practice and require great intelligence and determination to even attempt. This movie points that out very well….although I don’t think that was the intention.

Kidman’s character desperately wants to “fix” mankind…one person at a time. She is distraught at news of wars and violence…as we all should be. Unfortunately as an evolutionist and (apparent) atheist she has concluded that societal troubles must be caused by various and widespread psychological anomalies. Her best weapon in this battle for humanity is her prescription pad. I love this. It accurately describes the current state of modern (post-modern) psychological medicine. They have failed to accurately describe the problem, thus, their solutions are at best band-aids on surgical wounds, but typically abject failure.

The fact that a self described post-modern feminist could believably have a battle in her conscience about whether or not being zombified by an alien virus is a good thing really tells us something. She realizes that there is something very wrong with mankind and that only something very radical could be expected to solve the problem. Even in prescribing of pills, we sense her helplessness in the face of the enormous problem. This is the state of post-modernism. A philosophical system has been constructed where moral absolutes have become ambiguous (philosophically) but war is not an ambiguous evil…neither is murder…neither is rape. Like I said earlier…some smart people can pretend not to believe in absolutes (like wrong and right) but try to start a war or rape them and all of a sudden you are doing something “wrong”. When you throw reality into the mix post-modernism falls flat on its face.

As a side note: I realize there are a few obstinate idiots out there who would let me hit them in the face with a tire iron or cut off their mom’s pinky finger and say that it was not necessarily a bad thing…only undesirable from their perspective….just to prove their point….but hear me now, everyone inherently knows you are an obstinate idiot. Just as everyone inherently knows that rape and murder are evil. You are the pretender.

Of course as a Christian I join with my post-modern feminist friends in condemning rape and murder. Only I have a reason to do such a thing (they do not). I have an objective standard by which I can measure good and evil. Christians have a very cohesive and philosophically robust way of understanding how the depraved state of man and human dignity can co-exist. No other philosophy even comes close to the elegance in tying these things together as Christianity. Not even close. Unfortunately, it is often the case, that professing Christians have put much less thought into the philosophy behind their religion than the post-modern feminist has….so when they misguidedly show up at the psychiatrists office for help, they take the prescription down to the pharmacy hoping this pill will be the one that makes it all stop.

Watch this movie next Friday night if you’re bored.