Giving thanks always

Life, to quote that neglected philosopher Tonio K., is “a fiery ordeal.” Sometimes it’s easy. Most of the time, it’s not. But when life’s tough, it’s often tougher still to do the one thing we’re urged in Scripture over and again: To give thanks.We’re all well aware of the verses. Ephesians 5: "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father. . . . " 1 Thessalonians 5: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. . . ." And the money shot, Philippians 4: “R … [Read more...]

No ideas in a vacuum

Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. I was reminded of this while flipping through George Orwell’s collected essays and saw a jab he took at C.S. Lewis in a 1944 issue of the leftist Tribune. His beef was with Lewis’ collected radio talks, Beyond Personality, what eventually became the final portion of Mere Christianity.Orwell characterized Lewis as enjoying some “vogue at this moment,” which permitted him to offer “chummy little wireless talks.” But Orwell saw these chummy talks and books as subv … [Read more...]

Encouraging belief

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to encourage belief in my two children, particularly faith in God, trust in his mercy, and hope in his provision. But all around me I see people losing belief, not only in these things particularly, but in God generally. Why?I don’t think it’s the new crop of media-savvy atheists and all their “persuasive” arguments. I know enough about belief and persuasion to know that most of the time people do not change their minds unless they they’re primed to do s … [Read more...]

What goes into a man

It’s no small mercy that one of the most elevated human undertakings can occur during one of the most humbling. Yes, I’m talking about reading on the john.Stop blushing. You know you do it. Everyone does. I only wonder if we’re maximizing the experience. … [Read more...]

Sanity check for publishers

In all the discussions about digital publishing, enhanced ebooks, and the future of publishing, let’s not forget that we publish books. We don’t design games, produce movies, or animate features. We publish books.By “books” I do not mean a bunch of printed pages between covers, what is technically known as a codex. That format has been in wide use for the last nineteen hundred years or so. Before that the format of choice was the scroll. Today we have more format options—primarily audio and ebo … [Read more...]

Impact of the King James Bible

Novelist John Updike once called the King James Bible “our language’s lone masterpiece produced by committee.” He said that in a New Yorker review of Robert Alter’s translation of the Pentateuch—The Five Books of Moses.Well, Alter now has a new book about the King James Bible and its influence on the style of six American novelists: Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, Marilynne Robinson, and Cormac McCarthy. It’s called Pen of Iron, a title taken from Jeremiah 1 … [Read more...]

The Search for God and Guinness

Arthur Guinness wasn’t fooling around. He was mad as a hornet and wielding a pickaxe. Stand back.The year was 1771 and Guinness needed more water for his brewery. So he opened up a new watercourse and swapped out the pipes running to his shop from the River Liffey with larger ones. In addition to the increased flow, he increased the ire of his neighbors. The city of Dublin insisted he stop. Nothing doing, he responded. He “would defend [the water] by force of arms.”Out came the sheriff with a … [Read more...]

7 reasons to appreciate history

History is the story of God’s past providence in the lives of people.This is true for major events: Constantine battling at Milvian Bridge, Luther protesting at Wittenberg, King James commissioning the Bible that bears his name, Whitefield going on tour in America, Revere sending out the alarm en route to Lexington, and Patton storming the coasts of Sicily.It’s also true for the humbler moments: Jane Austen quietly revolutionizing English literature, Gen. Robert E. Lee writing tender let … [Read more...]

Name it and claim it—for real

The so-called Prosperity Gospel uses a catchphrase that rankles its naysayers: “Name it and claim it.” But what if you could steal the line, stuff it with a different and better meaning, and turn it into something more useful to personal growth and sanctification?Writing to make sure his monks were on their best behavior, St. Benedict formulated the Rule that bears his name. One of the chapters concerns singing in church services: “Therefore, let us consider in what manner it behoveth us to b … [Read more...]

Sex and food

Read this quote from C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity:"You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the … [Read more...]

Angels have we heard on high?

Last Wednesday Pope Benedict talked a bit about the spill he took earlier in July and the broken wrist he suffered."Unfortunately, my own guardian angel did not prevent my injury," he said. The angel didn't fall down on the job. He was "certainly following superior orders." The upbeat pope added, "Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility, give me more time for prayer and meditation."I've not really thought much about guardian angels since I was a kid, but I've … [Read more...]

Prayer and the workday

The Financial Times recently ran a piece on the value of meditation in the workplace. The article quotes several corporate managers discussing why and how they and their companies incorporate meditation at the office. “It helps you to get perspective and organise your thoughts,” says Jon Jagielski of Medtronic in an opinion echoed throughout the piece.“There’s a need to reduce stress in the workplace and meditation is the best technique I know," says Richard Geller of MedWorks, a company that … [Read more...]