Charles Dickens gave us A Christmas Carol, and among many others, he also gave us A Tale of Two Cities. I plan to to savor some Christmas literature this season, but first I’d like to consider Dickens’ opening to his latter tale, a fitting interpreter of our current year.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, Continue reading
I just re-read the last several posts to review where we’ve been going on JNC. I enjoyed the descriptive posts more than the informational post, largely because the descriptions engender peaceful feelings. I need peace. No pursuits. I must be quiet. Right now, physically, I feel awful: my fibromyalgia. I feel like I’m being crushed from the inside out. I had to leave church this morning, unable to stay for the worship service or the Thanksgiving, fellowship dinner following the service.
I do not use JNC as a platform to detail my personal issues; this is not a place for writer’s therapy. I try to stay focused on themes that nourish growth in Christ and well-rounded maturity — for all of us! Is not JNC’s motto “Walking with Christ and becoming more like Him”? It’s an embarrassingly lofty goal, but biblically sound (after all, we, as pedestrian theologians, have the Holy Spirit). The motto reminds me of Robert Browning’s poem, “Andrea del Sarto”. Here are two, often quoted lines from this long work: Continue reading
“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom, ” prays Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:12. Numbers are teachers. ‘Tis the season of counting, so 2017 seems to be. (By the way, we are home now after a 10 1/2 week trip to the midwest. Note postscript below.)
I’d like to consider the number one, after considering a few other numbers. Five hundred years have passed, as of this October 31, since Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 Theses (statements or declarations) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This date is usually used as the historical marker for the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, although history reveals birth pangs centuries earlier. For instance, note Peter Waldo and the Waldensians (twelfth century), John Wycliffe called “the Morning Star of the Reformation” (1329-1384), and John Huss who was burned at the stake (1374-1415).
Via his 95 Theses, Luther intended to announce a public debate, hoping to clarify the University of Wittenberg’s position toward the sale of indulgences.
Have you read through the 95 Theses? Quite interesting. I have my father’s copy, and in this post you’ll find three photos I took of it. Ninety-five is an intimidating number. I’d prefer to examine the number one. You know, the number one can be overwhelming all by itself. One. Alone. Sola. Solo. Solus. Whole number. Not a fraction. Not plural. One. The integer.
What is an integer? You see, counting, numbers, and specifically, the number one have much to teach us. Continue reading
My senses and heart have been overloaded these past two months during our Midwest travels and stays. We’ve made the Findlay Family Farm (on my mother’s side) the hub of our adventures. Whether at the farm, or my sister’s home in Indiana, or friends’ homes in Troy, Ohio, or Caesar’s Creek Campground south of Dayton, we find ourselves nestled in God’s diverse expressions of His glory through His creation and creatures.
Perspective is a view. A change of location changes one’s view, which should influence one’s perspective. For years I viewed the Midwest from an insider’s viewpoint. We’ve now lived in Arizona for ten years. From there I’ve acquired an outsider’s view of the Midwest.
Have you lived in various regions of the country or world? How does moving from one place to another impact your understandings of other places and people and even your understanding of yourself? Continue reading
The summer is flying toward Autumn. Nearly a month has passed since I last posted and since Paul and I headed eastward in our F150 Lariat pulling our Coachmen Travel Trailer. Our Maiden DistanceVoyage.
The summer’s flying toward Autumn
Days dense with weight fly light as light.
While the summer is flying, we’ve been driving. Driving across country from destination to destination. (Note previous post.) Not only are we now on the backside of my graduation*, we’ve also completed two weeks at “the farm”!
Commencement Ceremony on August 5, 2017
Trinity Theological Seminary
Dr. Karen Thomas Olsen
Recently, I re-read Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall which won the 1986 Newbery Medal award. Yes, Newbery awards are for children’s literature. Good children’s books make good adult reading. I’m also reading Why Suffering by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Titale. What a contrast! The first is “an exquisite, sometimes painfully touching little tale” (according to The New York Times Book Review), a lovely narrative based upon a true story, while the latter is a theological exposition exploring theodicy and the meaning of suffering by two philosopher-theologians. Both are nutritious and yummy.
In some ways, I evaluate them differently, because of their differing purposes, audiences, and genres. I bring my background to my reading chair where I’m comfortably curled. “There is no frigate like a book,” Emily Dickinson exhorts us, so from my armchair, I sail, navigating by the six points of my Reader-Navigator’s Map.* Continue reading
Are we there yet?
You mean, at the end of this series? No! It’s taking me a long time to get through it because I do not post every week. So, I’ll see if I can up the pace on this series about being a good reader and a self-discipler.
We’re on point two of six points on The Reader-Navigator’s Map.* Point 1 is Biblical Literacy (both the anchor and rudder) and point 2 is Genre Identity (the ship’s hull). As the ship’s hull, I see an understanding of a book’s (or a writing selection’s) genre as some ballast in my ship (my mind) giving me balance and perspective, essential to reasonable interpretation, analysis, and appreciation.
Don’t you love to learn and to read? I doubt you would read my blog otherwise. Since we must be rather brief (a book I am not writing here), I would like to offer a smattering of quotations from some expert readers along with some commentary to help us consider the impact of genre (categorization of literature) when reading.
I’m sure you view writing as a craft. Writers are sometimes called wordsmiths. Have you ever thought of reading as a craft? This is not my idea. A fascinating thought! Who said it? Continue reading
What a beautiful day today is! I’m sitting at my dining room table typing on my laptop while looking out over our side yard, viewing dwarf fruit trees in full foliage and tall rose bushes in prolific bloom — scarlet, yellow, and peach colored pedals. Billowy clouds herald God’s majesty.
The heavens and our garden declare the glory of God.
Nature presents numberless volumes of divine literature: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God and the expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge “(Psalm 19:1-2 NASB). Telling, declaring, speaking, revealing. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). From my window I’m reading a happy book. You have such books all around you in your nature’s libraries. Nature’s Divine Library.
In my previous post I presented suggestions for another library, your home library. I presented a dozen books as suggestions for your Biblical Literacy shelf, and then I described the first six. Today I’ll address the latter six books. Biblical Literacy (knowledge of Scripture’s narratives and declaratives; note post dated March 29, 2017) is the first of six points I’m offering as guidelines for navigating our reading experiences as Christ-followers — or pedestrian theologians — or salty, savory sailors on the Reading Sea. As Emily Dickinson declares, “There is no Frigate like a Book.”
Let’s look over the second six frigates, a small but powerful fleet. Ship Ahoy! (I hope you don’t mind my metaphors!) Continue reading
I always encourage young people to start their own, personal libraries — to begin with just one shelf in their bedrooms to place books worth keeping for a long time, some for even a lifetime. Whatever our ages are, we can equip ourselves with excellent resources to help us disciple ourselves in Christ and to guide us in whatever we read.
In our last post, I presented six points (guideposts, navigator’s criteria) to guide the Christian reader. You may wonder why my first point would be Biblical Literacy. Employing our ship/ocean metaphor that I set up in the last post, I am identifying Biblical Literacy as the anchor to ground us, the ballast to stabilize us, and the rudder to guide our vessels — as Christ-followers, thinking and interacting with what we read, whatever we may be reading. Therefore, I’d like to offer you a concise bibliography of core books to build your biblical base. You may have a number of these or some similar to them. You may find some here that you may want to add to your wish list. A person growing in biblical literacy and alert thinking will want to use books such as these. Continue reading
And what is good?
I have the next post in our series ready, but today is not the appropriate day for it. I awoke this morning, meditating on the meaning of good in Good Friday. You have probably heard much on this theme over the years, but we can never get enough nourishment.
My mind traversed various verses on this good theme. “The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” “No one is good but God.” “You are good and do good.” “O, taste and see that He is good.”*
I thought of the first usages of the adjective, good, in the opening chapters of Genesis which describe God’s response to His own work: “And God saw that it was good”, repeated after each day’s work, but after the sixth day’s work, God saw that it was “very good”. God is good and does good work.** I thought of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I thought of pure goodness, as in God’s character and His work, in contrast to the more complex goodness expressed in a fallen world.
I thought of the cross as the ultimate expression of that good-bad goodness.
I’d like to present a few quotations, Continue reading