Writing the best version of yourself

Writing the Best Version of Yourself

"Is there a way in which all of us are fictional characters, parented by life and written by ourselves?" asks James Wood in his book How Fiction Works. I read Wood's book several years ago now but remain fascinated by that thought -- particularly the notion that we in some sense write our own lives.There are external forces that shape us; we are "parented by life," as Wood says. But we should never lose sight of the internal forces at work; our lives are also "written by ourselves." It's … [Read more...]

A quick lesson in effective communication from Basil the Great

Basil the Great effectively communicating with and Prince Vasili III

Remember that time you confused Hemingway with Basil the Great? I was reading something by St. Basil the other day and was amused by the overlap."[T]he excellence proper to discourse is neither to hide the things signified in obscurity," said Basil, "nor to be redundant and empty, turning in all directions while overflowing randomly."Clarity and economy. The thought reminded me of Hemingway's comment on writing as architecture.In his day, Basil was a popular writer and … [Read more...]

Duck, duck, goose: The real story behind the Duck Dynasty uproar

Phil Robertson

The whole Duck Dynasty imbroglio comes down to this: Phil Robertson blasphemed one of the few gods our culture really worships, sexual liberation and unfettered self-expression. Robertson did it with all the class of white trash (his phrase) and that made it more off-putting than it might otherwise have been, but he was walking into a propeller blade no matter how he said it.It is not a free speech issue. No one's speech has been hampered by the state. It's a moral fight. We're just as … [Read more...]

Read this before you burn that picture of Jesus

Where's Jesus?

Around Christmas time it's impossible to avoid pictures of Jesus. But Megan Hill is still trying.According to her recent post in Her*meneutics, Hill has asked teachers to excuse her kids from coloring nativity scenes and says she covers books depicting Christ in brown paper. To be clear, Hill has nothing against Jesus. She seems quite devout. Rather, her beef with his image comes from a conviction that Christ should never be depicted.Arguing for her view, Hill says her "objection … [Read more...]

Why it’s good to remember our sins

Remembering our Sins

Over the course of several books, crime novelist Philip Davison gave life to his character Harry Fielding, an operative in British intelligence tasked with undesirable jobs. A small train of colorful characters orbit through Harry's universe, including his flamboyant aunt Kate.At one point in the final Fielding outing, A Burnable Town, Kate wants her nephew to go to church."Oh God," Harry exclaims. "I don't have to contemplate my sin, do I, Kate?"She answered with "a very … [Read more...]

Fun things you find at a Christian publishing house

Old book of Russian Orthodox canons

Earlier today I walked into a friend's office and saw a very old book. It was leather over boards with broken brass clasps. Here's a picture."What is it?" I asked."A Bible, I think," said my friend, Rod, adding that his wife picked it up on a sojourn in Russia.I asked for a gander, and he graciously set the book on the desk in front of me. It didn't exactly look like a Bible, but I didn't know what to make of it. It did look Russian -- Slavonic. But that's where my smarts … [Read more...]

Why you need the church to read your Bible

'Shady Characters' by Keith Houston

It's easy to bash the church, and there are many that do. Of course most bashers are blithely unaware of the countless things they owe their battered victim, everything from doctrinal formulations they mistakenly assume are plainly explained in the Bible to holidays. What makes December 25 so special, anyway? You'll need to consult the church on that.I grew up around Christians who thought that all they needed for their spiritual life was a Bible. Not all of them, of course. But there … [Read more...]


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