Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Books I Am Giving Away

If you are local, just let me know you are interested so we can save $$ on postage.

Exchange your books at BookMooch.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marley's Lament and What Scrooge Really Did on Christmas Day

If Hamlet's father never appeared as a ghost, Shakespeare would have no story (so to speak). Similarly, if Jacob Marley had not appeared to Scrooge, there would have been no story. Sadly, important elements of Scrooge and Marley's conversation and Scrooge's response on Christmas Morning have been lost as interest in the text has diminished.

First, Marley communicated something vitally important to Scrooge that Christmas Eve, and I want to make certain that as many who read this, understand Marley's greatest lament:

"'But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

'Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!'

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again."

This is where most people, screenwriters particularly leave off. Here is the rest of what Marley said:

"'At this time of the rolling year,' the spectre said, 'I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!'

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly."

Marley laments that he never raised his eyes to the reason for the star which led the Wise Men to worship. Marley also laments that he failed in the comprehensive ocean of his business, which was to point others to Christ, and Scrooge shook to hear it.

Second, look carefully at what Scrooge did on Christmas morning. He did NOT go straight to his nephew Fred’s house, as movies and plays lead us to believe. Here is what he did:

"He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk--that anything--could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's house."

Did you see it?  He went to church, then he got among the people and talked to them. What questions was he asking, I wonder? Clearly, it was not the walk alone that gave him pleasure, but what he did while walking among men.

Merry, Merry Christmas. 
And God Bless Us, Every One.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Orange

An orange.  An orange!

C’mon Grandma!  After all, it’s Christmas!  Where’s the fudge?  How ‘bout some bon-bons? I know I saw you icing a cake.  An orange.  Really?

I stood there with my orange.  It made my hand cold.

I said I was hungry but it was Christmas and Christmas is about cakes and apple pie and coffee and brownies and Pfeffern├╝sse and turnovers and petite-fours and gingerbread and Pavlova and icing and cookies and pudding and an occasional candy cane (maybe) and fruitcake and cider and pumpkin pie and eggnog and butter tarts and cider and donuts and Trifle and ├Žbleskiver and rice pudding and those little chocolate Santas wrapped in printed foil and hot chocolate and whipped cream and marshmallows and that funny cake that looked like it was cooked in a jello mold (the one with all the raisins) and marzipan and banana pudding.  Sugar plums!

Nuts. I could have some nuts. Instead of the orange.

Ahk!  Give me a bowl of rocks, why don’t ya!  C’mon Grandma!

Here’s an apple.

An apple?  Can’t you at least bake it first?  You know, chunk it full of brown sugar and let it swim in butter for a while in the oven?

You can have an apple, or some nuts, or the orange.

Aw, man!

Here’ let me cut the orange for you.

No, don’t cut the orange. I want it peeled.

Let’s cut the orange and we’ll put it on a plate.

No, Grandma. C’mon. Don’t cut th . . . I want it peeled . . . here, let me . . . Don’t cut . . .

Here you go. Nice wedge for my Grandson.

Don’t do that, Grandma.

What, honey?

Don’t say that stuff, “for my grandson.” I’m not eight.

That’s right.  You are twelve.  Now sit here at the table . . .

I want to eat it outside.

It’s cold outside.  Just pull up a chair here, honey.  This is your grandfather’s chair.

I want to eat it in the den, by the fire.

Let’s eat it here, so you don’t drip and get sticky.

Aw, c’mon.

Oh, Alright.

You know, I miss my grandmother.

And I missed the fact that she loved me through that orange.

That was the best Christmas treat I ever had.

"The Coming Child" by Richard Crashaw

Welcome!  all Wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, darling, beautiful, Godly, wonderful, wife. 

You are always in my heart.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Philip Yancey to Speak at December Commencement

Congratulations to our December Graduates!

Popular Christian author and Columbia International University alumnus Philip Yancey will be the speaker at CIU's December commencement exercises.

Yancey is the author of 20 books that explore the questions faced by most Christians and include "Where Is God When It Hurts," "Disappointment with God," and "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" He drew heavily from his CIU background in developing "The Student Bible," a best-selling edition of the Bible with study notes. Yancey's books have won 13 Gold Medallion Awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and have sold more than 15 million copies.

A native of Atlanta, Yancey met his wife, Janet Norwood at CIU, and went on to earn graduate degrees in Communications and English from Wheaton College Graduate School and the University of Chicago. He joined the staff of "Campus Life" Magazine in 1971, and worked there as editor and then publisher.

In 1978, Yancey became a full-time writer, initially working as a journalist for such varied publications as "Reader's Digest," "Publisher's Weekly," "National Wildlife," and "The Christian Century." For many years he wrote a monthly column for "Christianity Today" magazine, which he still serves as editor at large.

When the Yanceys left CIU they planned to serve as missionaries to Europe. Today they travel extensively to other countries, supporting the primary missionary work of Philip's books, which have been translated into 35 languages.

The Yanceys live in Colorado where they enjoy hiking, wildlife, and the Rocky Mountains.

Commencement is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. in Shortess Chapel on the campus of CIU. The public is invited to attend.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We finally have the answer to that age-old question, "I wonder what happens when an alligator bites an electric eel?"

This Clip Is Proof That Birds Are Secretly Composers

The Quest for Every Beard Type (I never knew there were so many)!  I am sort of partial to The Federation Standard, but The Klingon is sort of appealing . . .

Ok, last minute Christmas Shopping help right here:

Hey, Stu!  Check out this Steampunk turntable (Just bring it back in two weeks)!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Editing or Bleeding?

With this much red, it might as well be a murder mystery . . . and its everywhere!
(It's not a murder mystery, by the way)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love Fail

I saw these plaques for sale in a store.  Glad to know God's love for us in Christ Jesus never fails!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Defensive Driving Just Turned "Action/Adventure."

Looks like this is turning into a week of photoblogging.  My friend Dan took this picture in New Mexico:

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Dr. Rick Higgins writes on "This One Thing."

"Hey, Ma! You'll never believe what I caught while offshore fishing!"

Definitely some crazy artwork out there. 

They say "weird."  I say "Amazing" cloud formations.  These supercells are incredible.

Ok, one more.  Here are some incredible photos of Earth, as art!

Drifting.  It takes me away:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Adventures with God, part 1

I saw the following “conversation” (one of three, actually) written by a young man named Lev Novak posted on a website (forgive me if I don’t provide the link):

“God: Noah, all the people of earth are sinners. You alone are righteous.

Noah: Thanks God. Long time fan, first time prophet.

God: So, I have decided to smite the entire world with a flood.


Noah: Couldn’t you just teach man goodness?

God: No. I’m thinking “flood.”

Noah: So you’d rather just kill every-

God: What part of “flood” do you not understand?”

The act of God flooding the earth is a noteworthy matter for consideration, but is the conclusion correct?

What we call “Noah’s Flood” was not a stand-alone incident and sudden whim of God.  The young man gave the reason for God’s judgment by flood in the very first sentence, “all the people of the earth are sinners.” The Bible says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Gen 6:5, 8) The very wickedness of mankind corrupted the earth and God had to carry through on previous promise.  He was spot-on there.

When God created man (Adam) and placed him in the garden, man was perfect and could enjoy God fully. God told Adam that he could enjoy all creation as God’s vice-regent, only do not eat from one tree, for the day that he does, he will die. The tree had no magical properties about it that caused death, it was Adam’s disobedience. When Adam disobeyed, the fellowship with God was broken and sin entered. The paycheck, the reward for sin is death. Fast-forward to Noah’s time: man has not stopped sinning, only increasing his sinful activity. Man cannot enjoy God if sin is in the way.

Mr. Novak makes Noah ask a question, “Couldn’t you just teach man goodness?” Matter of fact, God did.  We know that Noah himself was the “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) and “he condemned the world” (Hebrews 11:7). In other words, he told people how they had offended God with sin and that they needed to repent and walk in righteousness with God.  So for Mr. Novak to put those words in God’s mouth is doing exactly that, because that’s not what God said.

It has never been God’s desire for anyone to perish, but that all should come to repentance.  Mankind was then and still is telling God, “no, thanks” then gets angry when God must carry through on His promise to punish sin.

I do appreciate Mr. Novak’s final words, “what part of ‘flood’ do you not understand?” because that was closer to God’s warning to sinful mankind and Noah’s preaching than God’s supposed and arbitrary fickleness.

A Day in the Internet

A Day in the Internet
Created by Online Education

Monday, December 06, 2010

Airport Police Car

"If I get arrested, do I have to sit in the basket?" (ht: WNW)

Friday, December 03, 2010

"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost

"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

Thursday, December 02, 2010


What happens if you are "cell-phone only" and you lose your phone?  Use this website to find your phone!

The Science of Shoelaces.  Who knew?

The Incredible Colors of Shorebreak.  And this happened by chance, don't you know (not!).

Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery.  The first three words say enough, don't they?

Tweety-tweet-tweet tweet-en.  The birthplace of Twitter?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Report 12 And The Last Line

Well, this is it.  November 30, the last day of NaNoWriMo.  I will close this 2010 year and this portion of the project with 172 pages and a word count of 51, 814 in 15 chapters.  But still not finished.  Now its time to read what is written, flush out what didn't work and make what was produced from scratch even better.  Might call it a "vision check."

Here are the last two sentences: "They turned and walked back to the wall, leaving him at the gate.  One of them looked back, across the dark."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo Report 11

50,022 words!  Word-count goal is met in 15 Chapters!  Honestly, I am not finished and will be taking the rest of the month to get the novel to a functional place before going into the editing phase.  At least I can say, "whew!"

I am happy with it overall, but there is still so much to do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Remember, the holidays are for families, so remember this amphibolie during this festive time of year: "include your loved ones when baking cookies!"  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Speaking of pilgrims, when did American accents diverge from British accents

Beware that dreamy and disembodied after-turkey feeling.

How to miss the moment with your iPhone.

Get some perspective with this "Scale of the the Universe."

If you are watching movies for the holidays, don't miss the Architecture of Inception.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo Report 10

Well, as of this moment, I am at 46, 060 words in 13 chapters of my novel.   The goal is at least 50,000 words.  I believe I can finish this book in three more chapters, Bob.

Anybody want to project a guess toward my final word-count?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo Report 9

43,295 toward the goal of 50,000 words, at least.  Started Chapter 12 this morning and have to start thinking all the more seriously about the end.  I am, for the most part, pleased with what I have but I am also keenly aware of spots to be edited.  Got to get this story right!

Here is the first paragraph of my novel, "The Ghosts of Christmases Past":

"Scrooge was born, to begin with. There is no doubt about that. As to the specific time hardly anyone gave thought to take notice.  On one side of the clock Christmas Eve was laying to rest and on the other began to rise Christmas Day.  The clock had barely begun to toll the midnight hour when she finally began to deliver and the sound of his cry finally mingled with his mother’s own, both together drowning out the final stroke of twelve--hers a cry of pain and joy at his birth and his a cry of simply being born.  He was a Christmas baby, a true cherub and an angel, heralding his own arrival in the world with screaming, kicking, trembling fists--a real gift indeed.  These were not the best of times to be born, especially as each day was filled with the concerns of war.  This tot merely joined the ranks of thousand thousands who were already shaking their fists in the world and at the world.  God only knows what kind of man he will turn out to be and what mark he would make on the world, in the end."

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 8

37,393 words towards the goal of 50,000.  I hoped to be finished with Chapter 10 "yesterday." 
If you already know what the book is about, please don't spill the beans.  Please.

Anybody want to forcast a guess as the final actual word count, as I plan on overshooting my goal?
Any guesses for the number of chapters?
Any suggestions for the movie?

Next week, I will post a summary of the book.  How 'bout that?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


 . . . but have you heard of a Seuss Army knife?

Visit some major cities of the world in 360 degree, zoomable format. Don't get dizzy!

From the highest point on earth, to the very lowest

Enjoy the fall colors of Colorado.

They ask a great question at the end of this video.  Wonder what the answer is?  It's pretty obvious to me . . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Is It Like to Visit Mecca During Hajj?

November 14 - 18 is the date of the Muslim pilgrimage called "Hajj." This is a very interesting 15 minute video on what Muslims experience while on Hajj to Mecca.

For a more detailed and personal look at Hajj experiences, watch the documentary, National Geographic: Inside Mecca.

I have found a very interesting verse in the Qur’an, and I have a question for Muslim friends. The Qur'an says: ‘If you are in doubt as to what we have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before you.’ (10:94) This verse says that Muslims should consult the other holy books which were revealed before the Qur’an. Would you like to study the other Holy books with me?

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 7

29,125 words!  Chapter 6 is HISTORY!  I feel like celebrating with some alphabet soup or something.  You know, get stocked to "hopefully" knock out two more chapters this weekend . . .

NaNoWriMo report 6

25,977 words written so far toward the goal of 50,000 (48 pages, single spaced; 78 double spaced--spacing is not a concern at this time).

At this writing I am halfway through Chapter 6 and my main character is only twelve years old.  Fifty-two more years to go . . . I wonder how much I will overshoot my wordcount goal?  Anybody want to venture a guess?

My fingers hurt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Think you wear a size 32 waist? Think again. Apparently clothing manufacturers use a “vanity size” on your pants.

Greg Gordon has posted "95 Thesis to the Modern Evangelical Church." 

Yes, Farmville is an actual place.  Not sure what to think about that.

Old White Man Turns Into Young Asian Guy Midflight.

Tim Challies gives a book review for a book that just got catapulted high up on my reading list: "Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People."    And while you are waiting for your copy, please enjoy this:

"On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers. . ."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 5

Ok, I had a real scary few hours there.  Here's what happened:

I woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head (you know the routine) and as I was walking out the car (I was not late), I took my keys out of my pocket and turned them around to find the car key (I have many keys).  Something did not look right.

My flash drive was gone.  My novel was missing!

I put my coffee cup in the van, started the van so it would defrost the windshield (no ice-scraper yet) and went back toward the front door looking to see if I'd dropped it.  Nothing.  Tried to go back inside, but the door was locked.  Went back to the van to get my keys, looking all along the way again in case I'd missed anything, went back inside, looking around.  Kissed darling wife again ('cause she needs lots of kisses) and thought I would ask her about my flash drive when she was more awake.

When I got back to the car, my panic subsided because I remembered that I'd uploaded my documents onto Google Docs after my last edit.  First opportunity, I checked Google Docs--yep, there were all my chapters and notes (whew!).

I went home for lunch, we looked around and still did not find it.  Bummed.

Sat down at my desk, opened my e-mail and lo and behold!  Someone found my flash drive outside and turned it in to the Faculty Secretary!

Come, rejoice with me for I have found my flash drive that was lost!

  • Cumulative Word Count 20,771 toward my goal of 50,000, which means there are 29,229 total words remaining. 
  • The suggested number to write per day is 1667.  I am at 2,597.
  • Suggested end date: Nov. 30.  My current rate could have me reach my goal on or about Nov. 20. 
So much to do and so little time!

Monday, November 08, 2010

NaNoWriMo Report 4

I could not go on.  I nearly finished chapter 4 and hated it, despised it.  So I wrote another chapter that became a much better chapter 4.  Does that count as editing?  Oh well.  Hoped to get a good start on Chapter 5 over the weekend, but realized I have some other things to look into first.  That's what happens when you plot.

Cumulative Word Count 19,033
Total Words Remaining 30,967 (goal is 50,000)
At This Rate I Will Finish On Nov 19, but its not gonna happen . . .

Sunday, November 07, 2010

1831 James Wilson Globes

ht: Anita, for pointing me (us) to this short video on the James Wilson (1831) globes.  I am related to this James Wilson, not the James Wilson of Pennsylvania who signed the Constitution.

Friday, November 05, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 3

Feeling like Snoopy, sitting on the doghouse with the typewriter.  One particular cartoon stands out in my mind:
Frame 1: "It was a dark and stormy night."
Frame 2: "Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon."
Frame 3: "A maid screamed, a door slammed."
Final frame: Snoopy looks up, "the twist in the plot will baffle my readers!"

Current Word Count 14, 709 toward my goal of 50,000
Words per Day to Finish on Time 1412
Total Words Remaining 35,291

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Transformational Leadership, transactional leadership and President Obama.

Go nowhere, in style!

So that no scapel is left behind . . .

There's a creepy android hanging out in the hospital . . .

Kewl video (ht: Tim Challies):

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 2

  • Current Word Count 5912
  • Words per Day to Finish on Time 1575
  • Total Words Remaining 44088
This is breaking me out of the academic mold.  I am so accustomed to writing academic papers that (in an overly simplistic way) merely address a topic and reflect in some manner on that which is reported.  Novel writing is something else!

My latest experience is thus: I have direction I would like to go, create the scene and draw out the action in my mind.  After pouring myself out, I have an entire paragraph!  Boo.  Now, I set it down, come back and look again at that paragraph, which has now become an outline in and of itself.  I am fleshing out and am causing to happen through characters and dialogue.  I've even seen characters leap onto the page I had not planned!

For example, I could say there was an assassination attempt on the King; or I could describe an afternoon on the playground where a group of children through their imagination make a play of the news regarding the King, as they try to understand it.  I liken this to when I was six or seven years old and the principle of our school came in and asked us, "what is 'Watergate?'"  Can you imagine how a child answers that question?

Right now, my biggest hurdle is making my main character suffer because when he has suffered, he must suffer some more.  And then some more. 

It does not make sense now, but it will.  Oh, it will.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaNoWriMo report 1

Here's a picture of my "Novel Bible."  These are the notes (so far) that I will be consulting as I write my novel in one month

I am learning very quickly.

I began with a more mathematical approach to this project, thinking that I could break the project down into smaller portions based on clean divisions of the overall project: 50,000 words = about 1667 words per day, or one scene per day.  I then set an initial goal of 1 chapter per week, or 5 chapters at the most.

Two words: "Epic Fail!"  Of course, I'd rather do this two days into the project, than later.

My first chapter was subdivided into eight smaller scenes.  I just finished one scene and realized that the scene in itself is one whole chapter!  If I squeeze eight scenes into one chapter, it would produce rather lengthy and cumbersome chapters.  If this pattern holds true, then my novel will be not five chapters, which sounds simple enough, but as many as 37 chapters!  That's a little over one chapter per day!

Perhaps the "Tolstoy" style would be appropriate here: five major "books" or parts, and the appropriate chapters accordingly by scene.  Sounds reasonable.

Friday, October 29, 2010


November is National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo).  I am not posting any blogs during November, except for any that may be related to NaNoWriMo, my novel specifically. 

My wife and I will be writing on separate projects, aiming at at goal of at least 50,000 words, or a 175-page novel by November 30, 2010.  So far, I have a nice 5 chapter novel charted out and am rather excited about the whole endeavor.  Can't tell you what it is (where would the fun be?) but you may catch a hint of what I am writing by taking a glance at my "Currently Reading" list, to the right, on this blog.

Perhaps you happen to be in the Columbia area, and would like to join us for some lunch-time write in's.  Bring your laptop, your plots or the seat of your pants (depending on how you write) during the noon hour (or longer, depending on your schedule) to the campus of Columbia International University (this is not a CIU sponsored event):
  • Thursday, November 4, in the Student Center, Main Dining Room (noon)
  • Thursday, November 11, in the Student Center, Rikard Dining Room (noon)
  • Thursday, November 18, in the Student Center, Rikard Dining Room (noon)
  • Tuesday, November 30, in the Student Center, Rikard Dining Room (noon)
Until then, please enjoy this quote by G.K. Chesterton: "There is a great man who makes every man feel small.  But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is this a hoax?

Or is it footage of a real time-traveler from 1928? After all, he is a film student, and does tend to smile a bit when describing the details; but, how compelling is the evidence?

This time of year, you never know!
But there is one thing you should know . . .


This is "Authority of Scripture" week on the campus of Columbia International UniversityDownload chapel messages from:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another look at "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder."

James M. Black published "When The Roll is Called up Yonder" in 1894.  This song has been sung often by many churches through the years.  I have a few questions for your consideration, at the end:

Stanza 1:
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Stanza 2:
On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.


Stanza 3:
Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there."
A few questions for your consideration:
1) Do you believe that at the sound of the trump the dead in Christ will rise, the church will be raptured, there will be seven years of tribulation, then the Lord will return?
2) Do you believe what the song says? 
If you answered "yes," to #1 and "yes," to #2, then please continue:
3) After the trump of the Lord sounds, "what" shall be no more, and what kind of morning breaks (see Stanza 1)? 
4) How does one fit seven years of tribulation between trump and time that is no more, when all of life is over?
5) The Bible speaks of the tribulations faced by Christians, and the tribulations experienced by unbelievers: which one do we mean?
5) If with the sound of the trump time ends and eternity begins and "all of life is over," (see Stanza 3) and the the saved of earth are "on the other shore" along with the dead in Christ (see Stanza 2), how does this song support pre-tribulational rapture?
6) How many resurrections are there (see Matt 22:23; John 5:28-29, 6:39, 44, 54; 11:24; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24)?
7) Care to make any comments?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Books I've Read

The reason I read is simply explained by looking down the banquet table to Tolstoy's German tutor who sat, "trying to remember all the dishes, wines, and kinds of dessert, in order to send a full description of the dinner to his people in Germany; and he felt greatly offended when the butler with a bottle wrapped in a napkin passed him by.  He frowned, trying to appear as if he did not want any of that wine, but was mortified because no one would understand that it was not to quench his thirst or from greediness that he wanted it, but simply from a conscientious desire for knowledge."  (War and Peace, Book 1, Chapter 18)

Here is an ever-increasing list of books I've read (non-exhaustive):

"9 Marks of a Healthy Church," by Mark Dever
10 Books that Screwed Up The World And Five Others That Didn’t Help,” by Benjamin Wiker
"The 99 Beautiful Names of God For All the People of The Book," by David Bentley
"2001: A Space Odyssey," by Arthur C. Clarke
"2010: Odyssey Two," by Arthur C. Clarke
"2061: Odyssey Three," by Arthur C. Clarke

"A Boy's War," by David Mitchell
"A Brief History of Time," by Stephen Hawking
"A Harmony of the Gospels," by Robert Thomas and Stanley Gundry
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth," by Jules Verne
"A Modest Proposal," by Jonathan Swift
"A Promise Kept," by Robertson McQuilkin
"A Sacrifice of Praise," by James Trott
"A Separate Peace," by John Knowles
"A Short Life of Christ," by R.K. Harrison
"A Tale of Two Sons," by John MacArthur
"A Theology of the New Testament," by George Eldon Ladd
"ABC's of Prophetic Scripture," by Clement
"Absalom, Absalom," by William Faulkner
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," by Arthur Conan Doyle
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," by Mark Twain
"Against 'Biblical Counseling:' For the Bible," by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
"The Age of Fable; or, The Beauties of Mythology," by Thomas Bulfinch
"All Quiet On The Western Front," by Erich Remarque
"An Introduction to Biblical Ethics," by Robertson McQuilkin
"The Ancient Greeks," by M.I. Finley
"The Ancient Near East: texts and pictures relating to the Old Testament," by James B. Prichard
"The Ancient Near East, Vol. II.  A New Anthology of Texts and Pictures," by James B. Prichard
"Angels," by Billy Graham
"Animal Farm," by George Orwell
"Anne of Green Gables," by Lucy Maude Montgomery
"Another Gospel," by Ruth Tucker
"Around the World in 80 Days," by Jules Verne
"Ashamed of the Gospel," by John MacArthur
"Art of War," by Sun Tzu
"As I Lay Dying," by William Faulkner

"The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness," by Leon McBeth
"Bearing an Hourglass," by Piers Anthony
"The Beauty of Holiness," by J. Baines Atkinson
"Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity," by Dave Hunt
The Bible (English, Hebrew, Greek)
"Biblical Archaeology in Focus," by Keith Schoville
"The Bible as History," by Werner Keller
"The Bible as History in Pictures," by Werner Keller
"Biblical Preaching," by Haddon W. Robinson
"Biblical Psychology: Christ-centered Solutions for Daily Problems," by Oswald Chambers
"Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West," by Cormac McCarthy
"Blue Adept," by Piers Anthony
"The Book of Acts," by F.F. Bruce
"The Book on Leadership," by John MacArthur
"The Book that Changed My Life: 71 Writers Celebrate The Books That Matter Most to Them," by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen
"The Boy Who Invented the Bubble Gun: An Odyssey of Innocence," by Paul Gallico
"Broken Down House," by Paul David Tripp
"Building Leaders for Church Education," by Ken Gangel

"The Call of the Wild," by Jack London
"Candide," by Voltaire
"Castle Roogna," by Piers Anthony
"Catch-22," by Joseph Heller
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger
"Christ Among Other Gods," by Erwin Lutzer
"Christ and the Modern Mind," by Robert Wayne Smith
"Christ's Coming and His Kingdom," by Keith M. Bailey
"The Christian Counselor's Manual," by Jay E. Adams
"Christian Theology: An Introduction," by Alister McGrath
"Christmas Stories," by Charles Dickens
"The Chronicles of Narnia," by C.S. Lewis
"The Church on Purpose," by Joe Ellis
"The Civilization of Rome," by Donald Dudley
"The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe," by Edgar Allan Poe
"The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer," by Francis Schaeffer
"The Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards," by Jonathan Edwards
"Concepts of God in Africa," by John Mbiti
"Contemporary Options in Eschatology," by Millard Erickson
"The Cost of Discipleship," by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
"The Counselor: Straight Talk About the Holy Spirit From a 20th Century Prophet," by A.W.Tozer
"Counseling and Demonization," by Grayson Ensign
"Creative Brooding," by Robert Raines
"Crime and its Victims," by Eric Van Ness
"Culture and Biblical Hermeneutics," by William Larkin

"David Copperfield," by Charles Dickens
"Dead End Gene Pool," by Wendy Burden
"The Death of Christ," by James Denney
"The Disciplines of the Christian Life," by Eric Liddell
"Documents from Old Testament Times," by D. Winton Thomas
"Dracula," by Bram Stoker
"Dragon on a Pedestal," by Piers Anthony

"The Early Church," by Henry Chadwick
"The Effective Pastor: A Practical Guide to Ministry," by Robert C. Anderson
"The End of Christian Psychology," by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
"The End Times," by Herman Hoyt
"The English Bible: From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation," by Jack Pearl Lewis
"The Epistle to the Romans," by Leon Morris
"Essentials of New Testament Greek," by Ray Summers
"Eternity In Their Hearts," by Don Richardson
"The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad," by Hal Lindsay
"Evidence that Demands a Verdict," by Josh McDowell

"Feeding and Leading," by Ken Gangel
"The Final Days," by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
"The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food", by Jennifer 8. Lee
"Forward the Foundation," by Isaac Asimov
"Foundation," by Isaac Asimov
"Foundation and Earth," Isaac Asimov
"Foundation's Edge," by Isaac Asimov
"Foundation and Empire," Isaac Asimov
"Foxe's Book of Martyrs"
"Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus" by Mary Shelley
"The Future Life," by Rene Pache

"The Glory of the Cross," by Samuel Zwemer
"God: What Is He Like?"  by William F. Kerr
"God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics," by C.S. Lewis
"God’s Forgetful Pilgrims," by Michael C. Griffiths
"God's Psychiatry: The Twenty-third Psalm, The Ten Commandments, The Lord's Prayer, The Beatitudes," by Charles L. Allen.
"Gods of Power," by Philip Steyne
"Golem in the Gears," by Piers Anthony
"The Gospel According to Jesus," by John MacArthur
"The Gospel of John," by F.F. Bruce
"The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck
"The Great Divorce," by C.S. Lewis
"The Great Omission," by Robertson McQuilkin
"Gulliver's Travels," by Jonathan Swift

"The Hallelujah Factor," by Jack Taylor
"Hamlet," by William Shakespeare
"Handy-dandy Evolution Refuter," by Robert Kofahl
"Have Spacesuit Will Travel," by Robert A. Heinlein
"Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad
"Heretics," by G.K. Chesterton
"The History and Culture of Western Asia and Egypt," by Bernard Knapp
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," by Douglas Adams
"The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again," by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Holiness as understood by the writers of the Bible," by Joseph Agar Beet
"The Holiness of God," by R.C. Sproul
"Holiness Voices," ed. by Robert Cowells
"The Holy Spirit in the Latter Days," by Harold Lindsell
"The House of the Seven Gables," by Nathanial Hawthorne
"How Can I Change?  Victory in the Struggle Against Sin," by Robin Boisvert & C.J. Mahaney
"How to Counsel from Scripture," by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
"How to Read the Psalms," by Tremper Longman III
"Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain

"I, Robot," by Isaac Asimon
"The Iliad," by Homer
"The Importance of Being Earnest," by Oscar Wilde
"In Step With The God of the Nations," by Phil Steyne
"The Incredible Cover-up," by Dave McPherson
"Intelligent Design vs. Evolution: Letters to an Atheist," by Ray Comfort
"Invitation to Philosophy," by Stanley Honer, Thomas Hunt
"The Island of Dr. Moreau," by H.G. Wells
"Israel from Conquest to Exile: A Commentary on Joshua to 2 Kings," by John Davis and John Whitecomb

"Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message," by Ravi Zacharias
"Jesus Christ Our Lord," by John Wolvoord
"The Jesus I Never Knew," by Philip Yancey
"Job: A Comedy of Justice," by Robert A. Heinlein
"Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography," by Ian Murray
"Journey to the Centre of the Earth," by Jules Verne
"Julius Ceasar," by William Shakespeare
"The Jungle Books," by Rudyard Kipling
"The Justification of Knowlege," by Robert Redmond
"Juxtaposition," by Piers Anthony

"Klondike Tales," by Jack London
"The Knowledge of the Holy," by A.W. Tozer

"Lectures in Systematic Theology," by Henry Thiessen
"Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremecy of God in Missions," by John Piper
"Leviticus," by
"Life on the Mississippi," by Mark Twain
"London: A History," by A.N. Wilson
"Lord of the Flies," by William Golding
"Lord of the Rings" books by J.R.R. Tolkien
"The Love Dare," by Stephen Kendrick

"Mere Christianity," by C.S. Lewis
"Metaphysics," by Aristotle
"The Mind of Jesus," by William Barclay
"The Mind of St. Paul," by William Barclay
"Miracles," by C.S. Lewis
"Missionary Voices," ed. by Robert Cowells
"Mody Dick," by Herman Melville

"New Life in the Old Prayer Meeting," by John Franklin Cowan
"Night Mare," by Piers Anthony
"Nineteen Eighty Four," by George Orwell

"The Odyssey," by Homer
"Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck
"Ogre, Ogre," by Piers Anthony
"The Old Man and the Sea," by Ernest Hemingway
"The Old Testament Speaks," by Samuel Schultz
"Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate," by Gerhard Hasel
"On A Pale Horse," by Piers Anthony
"On The Crest Of The Wave," C. Peter Wagner
"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"Orthdoxy," by G.K. Chesterton
"The Other Side of the Good News," by Larry Dixon
"The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes," by Elizabeth Longford, ed.

"The Passion of Jesus Christ," by John Piper
"The Perfect Storm," by Sebastian Junger
"People Raising," William Dillon
"The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit," by Donald Williams
"The Picture of Dorian Gray," by Oscar Wilde
"Pilgrim's Progress," by John Bunyan
"Portraits of Perseverance," by Henry Gariepy
"The Possibilities of Prayer," by E.M. Bounds
"The Power of Integrity," by John MacArthur
"The Practice of Godliness," by Jerry Bridges
"Prayer Voices," ed. by Robert Cowells
"Prelude to Foundation," by Isaac Asimov
"The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis
"Property and Riches in the Early Church," by Martin Hengel
"The Prophets as Preachers," by Gary Smith
"Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics," by Bernard Ramm
"Psalms: 1-72; 73-150" by Derek Kidner
"Psychoheresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity," by Martin and Deidre Bobgan
"The Pursuit of God," by A.W. Tozer
"The Pursuit of Holiness," by Jerry Bridges
"Putting Amazing Back Into Grace," by Michael Horton

The Qur'an

"Reason Within the Bounds of Religion," by Nicolas Wolterstorff
"The Religious History of America: The Heart of the American Story from Colonial Times to Today," by Edwin Scott Gaustad, Leigh Eric Schmidt
"Red Planet," by Robert A. Heinlein
"The Reformation," by Owen Chadwick
"The Republic," by Plato
"Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship," by Martin Sandler
"Right Thinking," by Bill Hull
"The Road," by Jack London
"The Road," by Cormac McCarthy
"Romeo and Juliet," by William Shakespeare
"Romans: A Shorter Commentary," by C.E.B. Cranfield

"The Sea Wolf," by Jack London
"The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days," by Dave Hunt, Thomas McMahon
"The Screwtape Letters," by C.S. Lewis
"Second Foundation," by Isaac Asimov
"Shadow Divers," by Robert Kurson
"The Shining," by Steven King
"Sing with Understanding," by Harry Eskew
"The Six Miracles of Calvary," by William R. Nicolson
"Socrates Meets Jesus: History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ," by Peter Kreeft
"The Source of Magic," by Piers Anthony
"Space Cadet," by Robert A. Heinlein
"Split Infinity," by Piers Anthony
"Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer," by J. Oswald Sanders
"Stranger In A Strange Land," by Robert A. Heinlein

"Teaching Truth, Training Hearts: The Study of Catechisms in Baptist Life," by Tom Nettles
"Ten Philosophical Mistakes," by Mortimer Adler
"The Time Machine," by H.G. Wells
"Theology in the Context of World Christianity:How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology," by Timothy Tenant 
"This Side of Heaven,: Race, Ethnicity and the Christian Faith," by Robert Priest
"'Tis: A Memoir," by Frank McCourt
"Titanic's Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler," by Brad Matsen
"Treasure Island," by Robert Lewis Stevenson
"Tried and Transfigured," by Leonard Ravenhill
"The Triunity of God is Jewish," by John B. Metzger
"Truth Endures," by John MacArthur
"Toward an Old Testament Theology," by Walkter Kaiser
"Toward Old Testament Ethics," by Walter Kaiser

"Uncle Tom's Cabin," Harriet Beecher Stowe
"Understanding and Applying the Bible," by Robertson McQuilkin
"The Universe Next Door," James Sire
"Up with Worship," by Ann Ortlund

"War," by Sebastian Junger
"War And Peace," by Leo Tolstoy
"The War of the Worlds," by H.G. Wells
"The Way of Holiness," by Kenneth Prior
"The Way of the Master," by Ray Comfort
"Western Society and Church in the Middle Ages," by R.W. Southern
"What in the World is God Doing?"  by G. Gordon Olson
"What's Gone Wrong with the Harvest," by James Engel & Wilbert Norton
"What the Bible Says to the Minister," Leadership Ministries Worldwide
"When Skeptics Ask," by Norman Geisler
"White Fang," by Jack London
"Wild at Heart," by John Eldridge
"With a Tangled Skein," by Piers Anthony
"Workhouse," by Simon Fowler
"The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century," by Thomas L. Friedman
"Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel," by Ronald Barclay Allen
"Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church," by A.W. Tozer
"Wrestling with Dark Angels," by C. Peter Wagner and F. Douglas Pennoyer
"The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England, from 1811-1901," by Kristine Hughes.

"Xanth: A Quest for Magic," by Piers Anthony

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Did you notice the tee-shirts the Chilean miners were wearing during their rescue? 

Did you notice that at the same time the Chilean miners were being rescued, 16 miners were being trapped in China?

Dr. King recommends these books for leaders in training and developing leaders.

A few devotional thoughts on the most forgiving people in the world.

Saturn's Moons Engage in Cosmic Paintball Fight.

What are the similarities and differences between Biblical/presuppositional apologetics and traditional/evidence-based apologetics?  This simple chart illustrates the contrast between the piece-meal approach of evidentialism against presupositional apologetics.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Over the Code Delusion

This is an interaction with the New Atlantis article, “Getting Over the Code Delusion,” based on my printer-friendly version. This way page numbers and paragraphs are more easily identified.

When I read this article, I was reminded first of the great milestones of science (the earth is flat; there are only 1,100 stars, which happen to be all the same; the earth sits on the back of a large animal; light was fixed, air was weightless and blew straight; the ocean floor was flat and was fed by rivers and rain; sick people must be bled; hands must be washed in still water; and last, but not least, complete ignorance of invisible elements, such as atoms) and second, how science has been working hard to catch up to the Bible (the earth is a sphere, Isaiah 40:22; stars are without number and are different, Jeremiah 33:22, 1 Corinthians 15:41; the earth floats in space, Job 26:7; light moves, Job 38:19-20, air has weight, Job 28:25 and blows in cyclones, Ecclesiastes 1:6; the ocean floor contains mountains, valleys and contains springs, 2 Samuel 22:26, John 2:6, Job 38:16; blood is the source of life and health, Leviticus 17:11; hands should be washed under running water, Leviticus 15:13; and last but not least, creation contains invisible elements, Hebrews 11:3). It is not by accident the word “science,” means “knowledge” and what science discovers is mostly affirmation to what is already common and very ancient knowledge.

“So what?” was my knee-jerk, default setting to Steve Talbott’s article, but not in an apathetic sense; rather, my question serves as a filter. The first paragraph met the filter immediately because such a premise deserves to answer the question. Are chimps human? Why not state that humans are chimps? This may be clarified later. The fact that chimps don’t seem interested in the conversation altogether is evidence enough for our humanity and their non-humanity (the key word being “conversation”).

The human body is defined by epigenetic research as, “not a mere implication of clean logical code in abstract conceptual space, but rather a play on the complexly shaped and intricately interacting physical substances and forces.” In other words, epigenetic research has reduced the human to a spasmodic lump of chemical reactions, or simple, “we are chemic Tourettes.” Talbott hopes that “more discoveries will be made that will continue to undermine the doctrine that a genetic code defines the ‘program of life.’” (p. 19).

A bulk of this 23 page (printed) article is a basic explanation of DNA, what it is, how it functions and other related findings of genetic and epigenetic research. There is an unmistakable tone of breath-taking awe and wonder in these descriptions—everything working together in concert; yet, sprinkled throughout are these constant reminders that all this happened by accident through evolutionary process—one wrong move and we have nothing to discuss.

Talbott extends to the reader the very heart of concern for researchers, that “the genetic code was supposed to reassure us that something like a computational machine lay beneath the life of the organism.” (p. 4) In other words, that life is the machine. Talbott is correct to point out that “if an organic context really does rule its parts in the way molecular biologists are beginning to recognize, then we have to learn to speak that peculiar form of governance, turning our casual explanations upside down.” The key here is “peculiar form of governance.” Without a key, nothing is unlocked, no matter what is understood about the lock or what lies behind it. Despite their findings, researchers cannot answer questions they hope to avoid because the deny the “peculiar form of governance,” such as: “how is it that DNA topology and physical features alone are crucial to life? What happened in the evolutionary process to determine structure—and this before the specific proteins that make the structure, much less make it operate?”

Let us return: if we share 98 to 99 percent of DNA, some feel compelled to ask the question, “are chimps human?” Is this a good question? Talbott reports that The Human Genome Project revised the human gene count from 100,000 to 20,000-25,000. This was a problem because of the count that brought apes and humans closer together. The same count showed that the roundworm has roughly the same number of genes as humans, as does the pea aphid and the water flea. Scientists suddenly don’t want to say that fleas are human nor do they want to say that humans are worms. Why be so specific to elevate humans above a worm or a flea, but not a chimp? Why stop there?

Face it: we are confused. We want to call animals human (selectively, of course), but humans are often treated like animals. One cannot help but remember when Ray Comfort called the airlines asking about taking a relative on-board with two handlers. The airlines would not allow primates in the cabin, no matter what we teach in the science books (watch from mark 2:17 to 7:13 of this video of the conversations with the airlines). Perhaps if the other species were just a little more human, they could sue. But then, what does it matter—US Airways won’t let you fly if you are too disabled, unless you have handlers.

One oddity (among several) that Talbott highlights is that scientists have determined that our coding scheme for deciphering the genetic book of life render most of it as “nonsense”, that “some 95 or 98 percent of human DNA was useless for making proteins . . . at first dismissed as ‘junk’—meaningless evolutionary detritus . . .” (p. 4) How did they come to that conclusion? Scientists did not know enough detail of the coding scheme, so the “book of life” as a whole was not understood and subsequently dismissed. Here is what they said, slightly reworded: humans have climbed to the top of the evolutionary ladder because 98% of what we are is really useless. Si lo que se dice que no se entiende, se lo digo a ser sin sentido? This is like pulling mortar from between the bricks. How can we possibly rise on the evolutionary scale with more junk DNA (p. 5) This is like going backward in order to go forward.

One of the strongest sentences of Talbott’s article is on page 6: “Constant things cannot by themselves explain dynamic processes.” The other strong sentence speaks of the performance of chromosomes: “this performance cannot be captured with an abstract code.” (p. 8) An exploded rock cannot describe dynamite: it can only show the evidence of what dynamite can do. Scientists lacking knowledge want a lump of clay to make itself into a pot. “The chromosome, like everything else in the cell, it itself a manifestation of life, not a logic or mechanism explaining life” (p. 11).

I appreciated most Talbott’s choice of words that demonstrate the failure of this kind of autonomous thinking: “somehow;” this or that “can be thought of as . . ;” “researchers have yet . . ;” “I don’t think anyone would claim to have the faintest idea how . . .”, etc.

Chemical reaction does not equate human life. We are distinguished from the rest of creation because of the one thing that makes us human, and that is found in a less-obvious place. We do find the evidence in what we see in physical features—these features merely showcase the necessary tools for existing on the planet. God created with words and appointed man to bear his image in creation as His vice-regent by being creative with words. God did not name the animals, but left man to interact with other living beings in this fashion. Life is for the living and is only understood in the context of The Person that many so-called scientists are trying not to see by exalting the creation over the creator. God says that life is in the blood—they are so close, and yet so far away.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis (part 5): Hell and Heaven

How Can There Be Both Mercy and A Hell?

The distinction between a game and a puzzle is that while a game produces winners and losers, puzzles are centered on a solution. C.S. Lewis debates the doctrine of universalism (“all will be saved”) along the same lines of this distinction: is personal eschatology to be regarded as a puzzle or a game? If a game, then why is the winner detestable? If a puzzle, then why the doctrine at all? Which is more tolerable: dismiss the doctrine of hell because it is disagreeable; or, allow the wicked person to enter heaven against his will and remain as he is?

Does God send people to hell, or is it their sin? This is the difference between world religions and biblical doctrine. Hell is inflicted because men prefer darkness to light. Hell is not a sentence, but a fact of being.

Punishment is just because righteousness, not vindictiveness, stands behind it. A man satisfied with evil will not be satisfied with righteousness. “Pain plants the flag of truth within a rebel fortress,” or it leads to repentance. Pain brought about by evil is knowledge, as opposed to ignorance. “To condone evil is simply to ignore it, to treat it as if it were good. But forgiveness needs to be accepted as well as offered if it is to be complete: and a man who admits no guilt cannot accept no forgiveness.”

Is eternal damnation disproportionate to transitory sin? Yes, but only because eternity is perceived wrongly; that is, if eternity were linear time (life, being a short segment of the whole). Lewis is correct to picture eternity as a plane, or solid; that is, a “multi-dimensional” whole (with life being part of the whole). What happens in a moment is not lost in a line, but constitutes all that is.

Lewis reminds the reader that the word “hell” describes much more than a place, or lack of place (ie: exclusion from heaven), but is symbolically used as a verb (punishment, destruction). The images produced by the symbols and descriptive language are to be used as combined ideas describing an experience to be avoided. “You will remember that in the parable, the saved go to a place prepared for them, while the damned go to a place never made for men at all [Matthew 25:34, 41].”

Is it possible for anyone to enjoy heaven knowing there are souls in hell? Lewis holds up two more troubling points that serve as objections to the doctrine of hell: first is the observed difference between the duration of hell and the finality of hell: because hell was not made for men, we cannot draw a parallel from what we know of heaven, so one in hell “fades away into nonentity.” Second, there exists the idea that omnipotence is defeated if a soul is lost to hell. Lewis in the best way he knows how, responds to these objections, but indirectly. His primary concern is that we as individuals miss hell.


We used to sing, “Heaven is a wonderful place; filled with glory and grace; I want to see my Savior’s face; heaven in a wonderful place (I wanna go there) . . .”

Heaven is often measured against the pain on living on earth, a safe place to enjoy God forever; yet, there are those who are swallowed in the pain of their sin that heaven seems like a bribe thus many are disinterested. Perhaps they feel there is more heaven on earth, so others remain silent about what they anticipate. Do we really desire it, then?

Consider the things most desired in life. Why is my desire for this thing not desired by others? Why are they things they desire of no interest to me? Lewis suggests we are born desiring, “a signature on each soul,” which is in itself a hint of heaven. Though created as individuals, we all have desire for an elusive, indescribable “something” this world cannot satisfy. “All that you are . . . is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction.” God is the soul’s first love. Heaven is made for the individual (not humanity per se).

Hell, Lewis suggests, is further understood to be unattainable ecstasy that hovers “just beyond the grasp of consciousness. “The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope . . . that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”

Heaven is not an experience as desire is an experience. Chasing an experience is elusive, hence the pain of life. Lewis quotes George McDonald, “’The door into life generally opens behind us’ and ‘the only wisdom’ for one ‘haunted with the scent of roses, is work.’” When we desire “something better,” we desire what lies beyond an experience. If heaven were a subjective experience, then because of its subjectivity, it would be owned. Lewis again draws a quote from Theological Germanica, “in heaven there is no ownership. If any there took upon him to call anything his own, he would straightway be thrust into hell and become an evil spirit.” Heaven is about overcoming and receiving what is given, even a new name that is no longer one’s own (Revelation 2:17).

There is a distinction in each created soul, a uniqueness that God fills in union through Christ. We are formed a unified body, diverse in members. Heaven is the celebration of that union through eternal worship of Christ who died as the expression of God’s love. Self-giving is heavenly, as selfishness is of hell.

“All pains and pleasures we have known on earth are early initiations in the movements of that [eternal] dance: but the dance itself is strictly incomparible with the sufferings of this present time. As we draw nearer to its uncreated rhythm, pain and pleasure sink almost our of sight. There is joy in the dance, but it does not exist for the sake of joy. It does not even exist for the sake of good, or of love. It is Love Himself, and Good Himself, and therefore happy.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis (part 4)

[continuing my interaction with "The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis]

Human Pain

Chapters 6 and 7 of C.S. Lewis’ book concentrate on the topic of “Human Pain,” which Lewis divides into two categories: “A. A particular kind of sensation, probably conveyed by specialized nerve fibers, and recognizable [sic] by the patient as that kind of sensation whether he dislikes it nor not . . . B. Any experience whether physical or mental, which the patient dislikes.” Immediately, Lewis expounds the pain of human autonomy; that is, the rejection of all that intended good that accompanies submission to God. One may choose the pain of self-surrender out of love for God and gain all the blessings that come with a restored relationship; or, one may instead choose suffer the pain of evil bound up in rebellion against Him.

Pain is an illusion-breaker, snapping us out of the delusion that all is well and that all the resources of the world are ours for the taking. We are not self-sufficient. When all is well, we cannot focus on God. Through pain, God makes life less sweet in order to empty our hands, that He may give all the good He intends. Pain causes us to choose that we may understand our free will in His sovereignty. Lewis makes six more observations regarding pain:

1. “There is a paradox about tribulation in Christianity.” Pain helps us understand the goodness of God, the evil of rebellious creatures, the exploitation of evil for God’s redemptive purposes and the good that “accepted suffering and repented sin contribute.”

2. “If tribulation is a necessary element in redemption, we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees the world to be either redeemed or no further redeemable.” Simple reform is not enough; that is, saying I’m sorry is not enough. Man must know his misery for true repentance.

3. The relationship between Creator and creature is unique.

4. The Christian doctrine of pain explains the world in which we live. We crave happiness and security but can only find it in the soul-rest found in reconciliation with the Father.

5. The problem of pain is not to be confused with all human misery.

6. Pain is disinfected evil because “the natural sequel is joy.”

Animal Pain

Skipping over to Chapter 9, we read, “so far as we know beasts are incapable either of sin or virtue: therefore they can neither deserve pain nor be improved by it. At the same time we must never allow the problem of animal suffering to become the centre of the problem of human pain . . . is it outside the range of our knowledge.” This just may be the key to understanding Narnia. We understand our own suffering because we stand on this side of our own experience.

“’Life’ in the biological sense has nothing to do with good an evil until sentience appears.”  R.C. Sproul writes in his book, “The Holiness of God: “The earth is an obedient creature.  It does what God tells it to do.  It brings forth its yield in its season.  It obeys the laws of nature that God established.  When the temperature falls to a certain point, the ground freezes.  Water is added to the dust, it becomes mud, just as God designed it.  The ground doesn’t commit cosmic treason.  There is nothing polluted about the ground.”
Lewis presupposes three questions, the first being, “what do animals suffer?” We can only speculate; but what is meant by “animals?” How does the question apply to the ape and the earthworm?

The second question, “how did disease and pain enter the animal world?” could be traced to the Fall of man; but, what did carnivorous activity bring before the fall of man? Lewis imaginatively wonders that man may not have been the first creature to rebel against the creator. His imagination could here be rejected on the grounds that God humbled Himself to become man, not a serpent or any other beast.

Finally, there is the question of justice: “how can animal suffering be reconciled with the justice of God?” Again Lewis entertains imaginative ideas that belong in his mythologies, for they provide no answers here. Scriptures explain that all creation is groaning for redemption, anticipating the glorification of man in Christ. The only coherent principle he offers is that “man is to be understood only in his relation to God.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis (part 3)

[continuing my interaction with "The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis]

How Can My Breath Stink If I Have No Nose?

C. S. Lewis asks, “why do men need so much alteration?” If the argument is that man has become bad through abused free will, then he must be able to use free will to become good. This means that the preaching of the good news (repentance by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ) is not good news at all. “Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis—in itself very bad news—before it can win a hearing for the cure.” Lewis present two principle causes for this faulty assumtion: first, doctrine has been skewed by focusing more on virtue and less on vice, more on kindness and less on wrath. Second, sin and shame have been redefined, which leads one to wonder: was Jesus death a mistake if all it took to fix man was a shift in focus and some simple redefinitions? Lewis likens this to the abolition of the nose, “that the smell of hay or roses or the sea should never again delight any creature, because our own breath happens to stink.”

Lewis exposes faulty thinking that remains still today [my response to these statements in brackets]:

1. “We are deceived by looking on the outside of things.” In other words, someone else is always much worse than I. [You are accountable for yourself, not others] ;

2. “Every person is guilty, so nobody is guilty.” [If you are caught speeding, the law hold you responsible because you were the one pulled over];

3. “Time cancels sin;” or, time erases the crime [This is what every rapist, murder and thief is hoping for—remember that if you find yourself a victim];

4. “Badness is excusable.” [see #3].

5. “Things are different now.” [What does history reveal about the cruelty of men and what is different: do people no longer lie, steal, murder or commit adultery?]

6. “We learn from our mistakes.” [So are we more or less cruel now than before? See #5]

7. “You can’t interpret the Bible moralistically.” [How can God be less moral?]

8. “I’m a victim of my ancestors. It’s not my fault.” [That won’t work in a human court of law, so why would it work when you stand before God?]

“Humility, after the first shock, is a cheerful virtue; it is the high-minded unbeliever, desperately trying in the teeth of repeated disillusions to retain his ‘faith in human nature,’ who is really sad.”

Warning: humility does not cause God to smile—it only helps man understand his helplessness.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


A parachute jump from 23 miles (120,000 feet)?  I think Red Bull is the operative word here.

November is Novel Writing Month.   Here are "20 Questions To Ask of A Novel" and some "Neat Stuff for Writers."

Dr. Warren Larson helps us understand "A Christian Response to Islamic Terrorism."

They can get the billets and the bullets, but not the ballots.  Really, Mr. President?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis (part 2)

[continuing my interaction with "The Problem of Pain," by C.S. Lewis]

Life sans Pain Is Lifeless:

Chapter 2, “Divine Omnipotence” is thoughtful consideration of the power of God and what man expects of Him. For example, there today is heard the so-called objection to God through the question, “Can God make a rock so big He cannot lift it?” The question demands to know if God exists based on a demonstration of power, which only proves the question is not a good question. Lewis answers: “[M]eaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning because we prefix to them the two other words, ‘God can.’ It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities . . . not because His power meets an obstacle but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.” If power were proof of existence, then what would be the outcome if you were challenged to arm-wrestle yourself? Impossibilities are safe for man, for here God displays His incredible power. In other words, pain is not evil when He allows it through His omniscient omnipotence as a danger signal in order that we avoid evil. Pain prevents us from making idols, a god of our own understanding.

Goodness without Pain Exists In a Universe Uncreated

Chapter 3, “Divine Goodness,” helps us understand how suffering assures us of God’s goodness. Man’s backward and worldly thinking (that what is “good” is “bad,” so what is “bad” must be “good”) concludes that the Omnipotent Fiend who is out to destroy what we deem good is the one demanding our love. Divine goodness is a new standard that reverses this backward thinking (we fear the destruction of goodness which instead God transforms). The call to repent is an appeal to existing moral judgment, putting God Himself “at the bar before His own creatures. [Luke 12:57]”

What does the goodness of God mean? “Whatever makes you happy,” is self-serving for the individual and has nothing to do with God or His goodness. Kindness can be separated from love resulting in a love and a kindness that means nothing to those to whom they are applied. The goodness of God is bound in the intimacy of relationship, the deepest expression of love that transforms inferiority at the expense of pain. Concern for man’s welfare is one expression of God’s love by virtue of His creative activity, but it is not the deep goodness that moves man from his backward thinking.

“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the world ‘love,’ and look on things as if man were the centre of them . . . . To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.”

The love of God is distinguished from “selfish love” (the kind of love that many objectors raise in their defiance to be embraced by His love): first, God’s love is without competition; second, as the interests of a child do not define a father’s love for that child, so God as a separate being loves His creation separately.

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