Tim Challies

Owl Post 5-19-14

Owl Post 2-17-12

 

My Wife Has Tattoos: Marriage, New Birth, and the Gospel

ring-tattoos-13Today is the day of my wedding.  And I am not marrying the girl of my dreams.

If you would have told me when I was a teenager that my wife would have seven tattoos, a history in drugs, alcohol, and attending heavy metal concerts, I would have laughed at you, given you one of my courtship books, and told you to take a hike.  My plans were much different, much more nuanced with careful planning, much more clean-cut, and much more, well, about me.

When Gifts Lose Their Luster

giftThere are times I grow weary of good things. Things I love. Things I would not want to live without. Things that have the ability to make my heart beat a little bit faster and keep my mind racing when I ought to be asleep. They are good things, but somehow, through time or familiarity or neglect or something else, they begin to feel not so good. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it seems to be yet another cost of being a sinful person in a sinful world. Even the best things feel like bad things at times.

Advice to High School Graduates: ‘You Are Not Special’

graduation-hats1On a spring day in 2012, Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr., stepped onto the school’s football field, then covered in a sea of seniors dressed in identical caps and gowns. Clad in a blazer and striped tie, McCullough made his way to the podium, donned his reading glasses, and began his commencement speech. Nothing about the event seemed out of the ordinary. McCullough, after all, was participating in a ritual that happens hundreds of thousands of times across the United States each year. He had given graduation speeches before.

But compared to the countless other remarks given by comedians, journalists, and politicians that year, McCullough’s speech stood out for its blunt, four-word message: “You are not special.”

Kirsten Powers: Liberals’ Dark Ages

darkagesWelcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.

How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.

Waving His Wand at ‘Beowulf’

packshotThere’s more to J. R. R. Tolkien than wizards and hobbits. The author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” was also an Oxford University professor specializing in languages like Old Norse and Old English.

“Beowulf” was an early love, and a kind of Rosetta Stone to his creative work. His study of the poem, which he called “this greatest of the surviving works of ancient English poetic art,” informed his thinking about myth and language.

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Owl Post: 2-3-2012

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Veronica Roth: About the End of Allegiant (SPOILERS)

allegiant-book-cover-high-resSo, I am back from tour….

All week, people who had read Allegiant were asking me the same question, and people on the Internet were asking, too. I answered it very briefly in a spoilery MTV interview that went up today, but I wanted to post a longer answer that goes a little deeper for those of you who are interested. I’m trying to be very careful about marking spoilers, so hopefully all this works

Is It Harder to Write About Happiness Than Its Opposite?

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Leslie Jamison and Adam Kirsch discuss the difficulties in writing about happiness.

Outrage Porn and the Christian Reader

FileItem-210937-outrageOutrage sells. It’s plain as day. If eyeballs on articles are the currency of new media, there are few things that attract those eyeballs more effectively than outrage. In the wider cultural context of new media there is always lots to work with: Alec Baldwin’s homophobia, Steve Martin’s racism, Patton Oswalt’s insensitivity. It goes on and on. There is always someone saying something dumb or unwise, and new media’s response is immediate, fiery indignation.

Has failure become a virtue?

tumblr_n081pkNxNB1r0ue2zo1_400“Christian, you cannot obey the Law. Your certain failure is a means to show forth the grace of God when you repent.”
 “We don’t need more lists of how to be a better spouse/parent/Christian. We need more grace.”
 “My life strategy for today: fail, repent, repeat.”
The End of The Clone Wars
Here are a Couple of great articles talking about different aspects of The Clone Wars series.

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Infographic: How Many Calories Are In A Drink From Starbucks

To encourage people to make healthier drink choices, Seattle-based Japanese coffee lover Ryoko Itawa of I Love Coffee created a revealing infographic.

Titled ‘How many calories are in a drink from Starbucks’, the infographic points out the calories in popular Starbucks drinks and equates it to various junk food.

According to infographic, a Grande Green Tea Latte has 350 calories, which is equivalent to a medium packet of fries from McDonalds, while a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino has 500 calories, which amounts to 120 Skittles.

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Why C.S. Lewis Never Goes Out of Style:

IMG_0145Last month marked the 50th anniversary of a bizarre day in history. Three men of significant importance each died on November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy, author Aldous Huxley, and author and scholar C.S. Lewis.

On that day, the developed world (appropriately) halted at the news of the assassination of the United States’ 35th president. The front page of The New York Times on Saturday morning, the day after the tragic shooting, read, “Kennedy Is Killed by Sniper as he Rides in Car in Dallas; Johnson Sworn in on Plane,” and virtually every other news service around the world ran similar coverage and developed these stories for days and weeks following.

16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year:

91o13sPo7VLEvery year there are more and more movies based on books being released. Here are 16 books that have been turned into films that you should read, the books are always better than the movie.

Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck:

game-of-thrones-posterI grew up in a fundamentalist environment. The church I was baptized in believed it was inappropriate for Christians to go to a movie theater. To this day, my grandparents maintain this standard as a bulwark against worldliness.

The library at my Christian school had a variety of books for children, sanitized for Christian consumption. Encyclopedia Brown made the cut, but all the “goshes” and “gee whizzes” were marked out with a heavy black pen. No second-hand cursing allowed.

Strength = Good, Weakness = Bad:

1122777918_the_dramatic_decline_of_the_modern_man_460x307_xlargeI like to be strong. At least I like to appear strong. You do too, I think. Most of us value strength and look down on weakness. We honor those who have their lives together and regard with suspicion those who do not.

Strength = good, weakness = bad. That is our functional formula. But it is not the Lord’s. 2 Corinthians 12 says it very differently: “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you,” said the Lord, “ ‘for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

6 Deadly Enemies of Marriage:

religion-300x336Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Owl Post 12-4-13

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

In Defense of Katniss Everdeen:

risa-rodils-catching-fireCatching Fire, the second film in The Hunger Games trilogy, has set theater records, and like its predecessor, it’s an impressive, gritty film. Suzanne Collins wrote a gripping series of young-adult novels, and the film adaptations have been well cast and well directed, especially the choice of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the film’s star and protagonist. Lawrence manages to easily embody both Katniss’s tenacity and also her youthful ignorance at the high-stakes politics of her situation.

Why Harry Potter is Great Literature:

harry-potter-series-books-7I enjoy spending time with people who appreciate great literature. The number of my friends who are intimate with Dante or Tolkien or Austen is, as Oscar Wilde would say with a wink, “considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.” My book-loving church regularly ships in world-class English professors to give lectures and field the usual round of questions about Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Aragorn and Faramir.

And I’ve noticed that in these circles, it’s often a faux pas to admit that I, like nearly every other Millennial in America, own extremely well-loved copies of all seven Harry Potter books. And I would lose all credibility with many of these people if I suggested offhand that I think the Potter books are in the tradition of the great English novels, deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, and are easily the most morally and socially insightful works of fantasy published in this generation.

The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men:

10298738-silhouette-of-a-man-on-a-mountainSo not every guy proposes with lip syncingrolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.

Yeah —  so what if  your Dad didn’t?

He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”

How Doctor Who Survived 50 Years:

Untitled-1When it started in 1963, Doctor Who should not have succeeded. A committee created it, to fill a time slot. It had a small budget. The BBC intended for it to be a children’s educational show focusing on science and history. Oh, and it debuted the night after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

And yet it worked, as seen in the incredible hype preceding Saturday’s 50th anniversary special—an extra-long, star-filled special called “The Day of the Doctor.”

Gospel-Centered Sex?

I recently read an article from a prominent blogger on the subject of the new “gospel-centered” emphasis in books. He commented on various books that applied the gospel to every area of life from the ivory towers of theology, to the mom caught up in the chaos of home and family. One quote at the end of his blog got me thinking: There is not yet a “Gospel-Centered Sex” book; however, it is probably on the way and may well be very helpful! If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.”

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home:

Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

Stopping An Affair Before It Begins:

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife.

Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

J.J. Abrams at TED in 2007: The Mystery Box

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Owl Post 2-17-12

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The Gospel Brings Freedom to Truly Love:

What is love? In short, love is joyfully and willfully sacrificing yourself in the service of others for the purpose of seeing them blessed. This is what we see in the gospel and this is what Christians endeavor to do as we respond to the gospel. The Gospel is the most heart-melting and liberating truth. It models and motivates true love.

What TV Teaches Us About Abortion:

264a3cda-1e13-492f-9540-609c51efa45aEarlier this month, NBC did something rare. In fact, it’s happened on average only once every two and a half years years since 1972. The network (spoiler alert) included an abortion plotline in a recent episode of its Tuesday night drama Parenthood. When high school sweethearts Amy and Drew discover she is pregnant, Drew wants to keep the baby, but Amy insists on having an abortion. Without counsel from their parents, they navigate the complicated and clearly heartbreaking process. Hailed as “brave” and “refreshing” by abortion advocates, the plot struck right-to-life groups as yet one more attempt by Hollywood to push a pro-choice agenda.

Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy on ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Lincoln’ and Secret J.J. Abrams Meetings (Exclusive)

kathleen_kennedy_cover_a_pIn November, a journalist asked J.J. Abrams what seemed like an obvious question: Was he interested in directing the next Star Wars movie? Disney had just paid a whopping $4.05 billion to acquireGeorge Lucas‘ iconic Lucasfilm and had stated its intention to turn out new Star Wars films every two to three years beginning in 2015. The prolific Abrams, who had sparked the flagging Star Trek series in 2009, seemed a natural fit. But he quickly shot the idea down. While Star Wars was “the first movie that blew my mind in that way,” he said then, he wanted to focus on original material.

Awakening to Every Pleasure:

It may be the most common feature of the bestselling Christian books. “We all want to be great for God and do things that would be impossible without his presence and help. So live a life that’sGreater.” “You are living a life of comfort, ease and complacency, so step out and do somethingRadical.” “Your life is just passing you by as you sit on the sidelines, so God is calling you to be a follower, Not a Fan.” “You want more Jesus and are bored with what Christianity offers you. You need to rediscover God’s Crazy Love.” It goes on nearly ad infinitum. Some are awful, some are brilliant, but the theme is largely the same: There must be more to life than this! Please tell me there is more to life than this!

9 WAYS TO FIGHT THE TEMPTATION OF PORNOGRAPHY:

In an earlier post I wrote, “7 Negative Effects of Porn,” I focused on the harmful psychological and sociological effects of pornography. This post will focus on a biblical and grace-centered way to resist the temptation to view porn. This post is primarily aimed at men, but I hope that there is some help here for the growing number of women who are addicted to porn and I hope that more Christian women will write on this hidden issue.

Never Say Yes to a Nightcap:

whiskey_glass_250The vicious cycle of the nightcap begins innocently. Jane has a snifter of cognac, to clear her head, to ease her to sleep. Why not? It’s something civilized people do. So she does, and she slides into sleep a little more smoothly.

But it’s slightly less revitalizing than the sleep of sobriety. She doesn’t hit the same cycles. The next day she is ever-so-slightly anxious, on edge. She yells at a co-worker. Jane never yells.

Abrams brings fandom, secrecy to ‘Star Wars’ universe:

Sorry, Darth Vader. J.J. Abrams is now the face of the Star Wars empire.

The Force gained a new creative leader, Trekkies lost one and Abrams expands his own sci-fi pop-culture résumé as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, tentatively arriving in theaters like a massive Imperial Star Destroyer in 2015.

Q&A: Why Would Patrick ‘McDreamy’ Dempsey Buy a Seattle-Based Coffee Chain?

5d4a125a-04b4-41ac-bb22-0eb8d4f5daffPatrick Dempsey’s doing just fine without having to pull a West Coast coffee chain from the brink of extinction. Besides being one of Hollywood’s most seasoned lady killers, he’s still making a fine living for himself as McDreamy on the ABC medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” now in its ninth season. But Dempsey’s not satisfied merely acting. That’s why Global Baristas, LLC — an investor group led by Dempsey — surprised observers by outbidding Starbucks in early January to purchase Tully’s, a small, bankrupt, Seattle-based coffee chain. As a result, when Dempsey’s not filming, he’s likely meeting baristas, visiting cafes, and drinking way too much coffee. In between, he had a few minutes to chat about his latest venture.

Disney’s Beautiful short film: Paperman

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Owl Post: 2-3-2012

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Kathryn Bigelow on Zero Dark Thirty‘s Torture Controversy:

zero-dark-thirty-posterPersonally, I’ve never had the federal government wage a highly visible veracity-campaign that led to an official Senate Intelligence Committee review into the CIA’s factual sourcing of my movie — but I can imagine it’s pretty uncomfortable! So hats off to Kathryn Bigelow for the smoothness with which she’s handled the debate over Zero Dark Thirty’s torture scenes: Whether it’s been on late-night TV or at critics’ awards, she’s managed to calmly reiterate her quite-convincing message that “depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices.” In other words: Come on, dudes, you all know some torture went down on the hunt for Bin Laden, and that’s why it’s in ZDT. I’m not saying it was awesome. I’m just saying it happened. (Special Bonus Hats Off to Bigelow for cooly dealing with this whole HUAC situation while also shrugging off her Oscar snub). Now — whether because she felt the conversation just wasn’t going away, or whether she just felt now was the right time to do so — Bigelow has weighed in more expansively, with a piece in the L.A. Times.

Pain of the New:

2012TheHobbit01PR200912New media technologies often cause an allergic reaction when they first appear. We may find them painful before we find them indispensable.

I watched the movie The Hobbit. Twice. First I saw it in its “standard” mode. A day later I returned to see The Hobbit in 3D at a high frame rate of 48 frames per second, called HFR. HFR is a cinematic hi-tech that promises greater realism. It was amazingly real. And disturbing at first.

Because 48 frames per second is just above the threshold that a human eye/brain can detect changes, the projected picture seems startling whole and “smooth,” as if it were uninterrupted reality.

3 Ways to Live With Joy:

Last week I was captivated by a sunrise. I am one of those people who is “early to bed, early to rise” and have watched many sunrises. I love the dawning of a new day because every day is so full of promise and possibility. Every sunrise lays a new day before us and asks, “What will you do with this day? What will this day be?”

Men Like to Look At Naked Girls On The Internet. Here’s Why They Should Stop That.

I had a bit of a personal crisis when I saw this link from The Huffington Post titled, “Research Suggests that All Men Watch Pornography.” My first thought was that they could not have possibly talked to all men. I know this, because I do not watch pornography. This made me suspicious that the link was tied to a pornographic Web site designed to trick me, the last man standing, into accidentally seeing pornography in order to validate their research. (Or, more disturbingly, it could be that I am not actually a man because I do not watch pornography.)

 

Peanuts to make you laugh

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Owl Post 11-28-12

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Purchasing Joy:

Through the weekend that follows Thanksgiving I have been maintaining a page that provides a round-up of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that are of particular interest to Christians. This is something I have done for several years now, yet every year I do it with a bit of a guilty conscience. There are both benefits and drawbacks to publicizing deals like these. On the one hand, it is a means of connecting Christian retailers with people who may be interested in taking advantage of a few pre-Christmas deals, but on the other hand it may just feed the consumerism that is rampant both outside the church and within.

Eating Poorly, Sleeping Well: Mockingjay and the End of Progress:

There are dystopian novel plots that resolve, and there are those that do not. Commercial success demands resolution, which is a great reason why Collins will have to overcome a credibility barrier with adolescents and young adults if she ever wants to match The Hunger Games trilogy’s sales with future works. Peeta?? Come on – all pulp bestselling authors know that the dark, masculine hunter is supposed to win out in adolescent-lit love triangle. Anyone writing a conventional dystopian epic knows that readers like resolution, and let’s face it, Panem’s new government doesn’t seem particularly promising. Katniss fails in her assassination attempt, which honestly changes the prospective climax into a major letdown. Most people seemed disappointed by the ending in some way or another, but it’s also safe to say that the third book is the most honest – since it alone in the series doesn’t have to appeal to anyone commercially (they’re all buying it anyways), Collins is free to present her undistilled vision for her literature. Even in the raw, oft-disappointing power of Collins’s vision of her characters as weak, suffering, or powerless, audiences still try to recover conventional meanings of glory from her work. “Real or not real?”, the poster at left reads. “Tick, tock, this is a clock”, a poster from Catching Fire reads. And yet, there are no deep musing on Time in this trilogy, no thematic explorations of reality in the way those two posters would suggest. Similarly, the clichéd love triangle disappoints many readers at the end, and the naive theme of political revolution takes an obvious backseat to Katniss’s own internal trauma. Whatever Collins is presenting us with, it’s certainly not the easy romance and suspense which drew people into The Hunger Games, and neither can it be described by simple catchphrases which, quite frankly, are more situational and fun for Collins than universal or philosophical points. Instead, it’s the plot itself that articulates her vision.

Newly Unemployed Newlyweds and Billy Joel’s Fiery Optimism:

I’ve recently become fixated on fire – in both its noun and verb form. This preoccupation began when, three days after returning from my honeymoon, ten days into my marriage, I was fired from my position as a first-time 5th and 6th grade teacher. This jarring turn of events has (much like the beginnings of a B-rated rom-com) led to some soul searching. After weeks of crosswords, wedding thank you notes, episodes of Gilmore Girls, and intermittent moments of panic, I’ve landed on Billy Joel’s 1989 hit “We Didn’t Start theFire” as an unexpected spring of inspiration.

Don’t Sanitize the Psalms:

In some churches, if our public worship and prayers echoed what we find in the Psalms we might find ourselves called before the church board for correction. Unlike the stoic legalist or safe churchman, the psalmist expressed the full range of emotions in worship. He felt no need to pretend that he had it all together. He did not limit himself to safe clichés about God.

A Sigh of Relief: The Avett Brothers and Anne Steele Get Honest:

Peace can be uncomfortably paradoxical. I’ve found that a vast majority of the conversations I have during the week beat around the bush–and the lack of substance only perpetuates existing anxiety. Art has proved to be exceedingly helpful, in that it often points me to an inescapable truth: when feeling stuck, the worst possible thing to do is hide. But we want to hide. Nothing about displaying fears and insecurities seems the least bit freeing.

In their new album, The Carpenter, The Avett Brothers continue their wonderfully raw and beautiful articulation of real life.

Previously on Parenthood, Pt 4: It’s Scary, It’s Really Scary:

Remember that I introduced this series of posts by looking at an earlier episode poignantly titled “Everything is not OK ,” a title that spoke to Adam’s relentless positivity in the face of his wife Kristina’s suffering. Since then Adam has slowly come to grips with the realities of Kristina’s breast cancer, but the most recent episode (#7, “Together”) portrays his continued futile attempts to keep everything “under control” as he says: “I’ve got this taken care of.” The thing is, Kristina isn’t the only one suffering. Adam is, too. His attempts to keep everything at work and at home under control/business-as-usual are basically unconscious efforts to distract himself from the pain. Ironically, he is killing himself by doing so.

Do Pro-Life Policies Even Matter?

One of the persistent myths in the abortion debate is that the pro-life movement doesn’t actually do much to help save lives. You’ll sometimes hear this complaint from pro-lifers themselves who have cynically concluded that pro-life legislation and pro-life legislators don’t accomplish anything that matters to unborn babies. On the other side, pro-choice advocates will claim that the pro-life cause is all about controlling women and regulating sex and don’t do anything to reduce the number of abortions anyway. If there is one thing cynics on both sides can agree on it’s that pro-life policies don’t work.

Please check out my new podcast on Trek.fm, Literary Treks. It is devoted to all things Star Trek in literature; novels, comics and reference books. We talk to authors, have book and comic news as well as cover books in-depth. So give us a listen.

Owl Post 9-27-12

Links for Reviews and News for J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy:

J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy: We’ve Read It, Here’s What We Thought:

It’s not really possible to open The Casual Vacancy without a lot of expectations both high and low at the same time crashing around in your brain and distorting your vision. I don’t know if it’s possible or even desirable to avoid them. I know I had a lot of, let’s call them feelings when I opened the book (which happened on Saturday morning; don’t ask; I work for the military-industrial-entertainment complex, let’s just leave it at that). I have spent many, many hours reading Rowling’s work. I am a known Harry Potter fan.

J.K. Rowling’s debut novel for adults is a hard story that’s worth a read:

If you’re looking for what makes J.K. Rowling magical — emotion, heart — you will.

“The Casual Vacancy” is the first novel written for adults from Rowling, the successful-beyond-belief author behind the “Harry Potter” series about the young boy who discovers he’s a wizard.

Poverty Informs J.K. Rowling’s New Novel For Adults:

J.K. Rowling has a new novel. She’s moved away from Harry Potter, the boy wizard whose stories prompted millions of kids to obsess over books big enough to serve as doorstops. Having concluded that series, she’s written a novel for grown-ups called The Casual Vacancy, a story of troubled teenagers and their even more troubled parents.

Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama:

Tell certain liberals and progressives that you can’t bring yourself to vote for a candidate who opposes gay rights, or who doesn’t believe in Darwinian evolution, and they’ll nod along. Say that you’d never vote for a politician caught using the ‘n’-word, even if you agreed with him on more policy issues than his opponent, and the vast majority of left-leaning Americans would understand. But these same people cannot conceive of how anyone can discern Mitt Romney’s flaws, which I’ve chronicled in the course of the campaign, and still not vote for Obama.

The Days I Need the Gospel Least:

Preach the gospel to yourself! Preach the gospel to yourself every day! I think we are all growing accustomed to being told that Christians need to center their lives upon the gospel and that one of the keys to doing this is to be continually reminded of what is true by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day. I’ve been hearing this for years now and to varying degrees have been practicing it. However, just last week I had a bit of a breakthrough in my thinking about it. (Though this is a breakthrough for me, it is may well be one of those things you have understood for years.)

Former Saviors Now Stumble:

At first glance, you might think they’ve done a fine job… look at an illustration by John Buscema realized in the form of James Purefoy, or a vintage Frank Frazetta drawing fleshed out by Taylor Kitsch. On a surface level, it might look like Solomon Kane and John Carter have been translated from their literary origins to the wonder of 21st century movie-making, characters created a little over or under a century ago finding new life in cinema. Problem is, whether you enjoyed, abhorred, or found yourself indifferent to the cinematic versions, these icons have nevertheless been significantly, and intentionally, tarnished.

A Free People’s Suicide:

Os Guinness has performed an act of social ecology. With A Free People’s Suicide, he questions whether the American way of life is sustainable. But when we talk about sustainability in this sense, the question is not whether America will keep its air clean, its water pure, or its forests lush. Guinness is interested in a deeper and more urgent question: Will American freedom continue to thrive, or will it unravel as a result of its abuses?

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Fall Movie Preview: 20 Movies to See This Oscar Season:

It’s been a long, strange, explosion-filled ride, but another summer blockbuster season has come to an end. As August draws to a close, we put aside our threequels and superheroes—some for now and some for good (so long, Christian Bale’s Batman; see you in 2015, Avengers). But, happily, there’s no time in the cinematic calendar quite like autumn, when studios start eying Oscar nominations. If summer is a time for Abraham Lincoln to fight vampires, autumn is a time for Abraham Lincoln to give long, dignified speeches.

What Is Biblical Justice?

When I was professor at a theological seminary in the mid-eighties, one of my students was a young man named Mark Gornik. One day we were standing at the copier and he told me that he was about to move into Sandtown, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Baltimore. I remember being quite surprised. When I asked him why, he said simply, “To do justice.”

The Small Increments of Change:

A few years ago I read Paul Chamberlain’s Talking About Good and Bad Without Getting Ugly, a book that proposes ways that Christians can talk about difficult issues—issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, euthanasia—in a pluralistic society. The final chapter is a case study that features William Wilberforce as an example of a man who used his Christian convictions to bring about widespread cultural change. Wilberforce was a driving force behind the abolition of slavery within the British Empire. The results of his efforts are seen and celebrated in Western society to this day.

Adultescents and the Paralysis of Choice:

There is as much to be said about Sally Koslow’s Slouching Towards Adulthood as there is to be said about the entire cultural “issue” of emerging adults and its derivative platter of opinions. A mother of two adult boys who “have finally moved out,” Koslow speaks candidly and with humor about the parental experience of the adultescent, a term she defines as, “Americans twenty-two to thirty-five caught between adolescence and adulthood in an exploration that seems to go on forever, like the Rolling Stones.” Using her “adultescent” years and then her parenting years as a guide, she demarcates the differences between boomer and, ahem, blogger generations and sets out a very readable and well-researched analysis of what went wrong.

YOU ARE ACCEPTED:

Accepted. Isn’t that a great word? We all feel as if we don’t fit, as if we stick out. Whether it’s the person whose attention you want, or the law firm that doesn’t want you, or the mirror that lies to you, or the date who never called back, or the fraternity that didn’t invite you, or the voice in your head that says nobody cares about you, or the professor who makes you feel stupid, or the loneliness you experience, or the religious people who judged you—deep down, don’t we have a need to be accepted, one that is easily triggered by any sense of rejection?

‘Beam Us Up, Mr. Scott!': Why Misquotations Catch On:

“Misquotations are often stickier than actual quotes,” Abraham Lincoln once joked. He didn’t really, of course—but he’d be a great spokesperson of the sentiment, given how often his words have been misremembered, miscast, passed down from person to person in a way that little resembles any of his actual statements. (Actually, Mark Twain would be a better candidate for that one. Didn’t he say basically everything?)

Owl Post 5-24-2012

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Two perspectives on The Hunger Games:

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core:

Almost everywhere I go, I’m asked about The Hunger Games (book, not film). The questions used to fly about Twilight and Potter, but Katniss and dystopic death-matches have taken over.

Amusing Ourselves at Their Deaths:

Neil Postman begins his ground-breaking – and still controversial – Amusing Ourselves to Death by famously pitting the dystopian vision of George Orwell’s 1984 against that of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In summary, he noted that Orwell’s great anxiety was that the world would be controlled by fear and the suppression of truth, whereas Huxley suggested it would be manipulated through hedonism and distraction from truth. Big Brother inflicts pain, whereas the World State inflicts pleasure. Part 1, Part 2

Seven Key Ideas from C. S. Lewis:

I have heard it said that many well-known thinkers have only two or three key ideas that they develop from various angles throughout their lives. It might be asked: What are C.S. Lewis’s key ideas? I have chosen seven to summarize in this essay.

Joss Whedon on Comic Books, Abusing Language and the Joys of Genre:

Geeks love Joss Whedon. In his TV shows and movies — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Serenity, Firefly — he gives them not necessarily what they want, but definitely what they need.

His characters are smart and self-aware. He’s steeped in pop culture and has a clever way with the twists and turns of science fiction tropes. And he infuses the potential clichés of genre writing with emotion and heart. Plus, he writes female characters who kick ass, which makes him so rare as to besui generis in Hollywood.

The Age of Innocence:

The people who pioneered democracy in Europe and the United States had a low but pretty accurate view of human nature. They knew that if we get the chance, most of us will try to get something for nothing. They knew that people generally prize short-term goodies over long-term prosperity. So, in centuries past, the democratic pioneers built a series of checks to make sure their nations wouldn’t be ruined by their own frailties.

U.S. Craft Beer Brewers Thrive, Despite Small Share Of The Market:

It’s a good time to brew beer in America. According to beer expert Julia Herz, U.S. brewing isn’t just on the upswing, it’s on top. “We’re now the No. 1 destination for beer, based on diversity and amount of beers,” she says.

The Ledger:

Near the center of every religion is a ledger. Every religion acknowledges, on one level or another, that people do good things and bad things and every religion then maintains a tally, supposing that one day there will come a reckoning. Every religion hopes that on the day of accounting, the day of the audit, the good will outnumber or outweigh the bad. There is hope for those who come to that day with a surplus and no hope for those who come with a deficit.

Marvel Movie Infograph: