September 26, 2018

There has been a lot of talk of late in my church, the UMC, about schism. How it is a sin, etc. etc. etc. This talk has usually come up in conjunction with the discussion of the ironically titled One Church Plan to resolve our difficulties, which rather than resolving them devolves them down to the Conference and local church level. So, perhaps it would be useful to talk about what the term schism actually means, theologically and ethically speaking.... Read more

September 25, 2018

The running joke in Chapel Hill for many aeons about the statue of a Confederate soldier (called Silent Sam) on the front lawn of UNC was that his musket was silent awaiting the first virgin to pass so he could fire his gun. This joke will no longer be part of the folk lore of UNC, because on the night of August 20, Silent Sam was pulled down from his pedestal by a group of protesting students, an illegal action,... Read more

September 24, 2018

What were Leonardo’s great works of art, and what did he add to that realm of creativity? First of all, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and his The Last Supper are so iconic and influential, one could spend lots of blog posts touting their merits. One of the real strengths of Isaacson’s bio of Leonardo is detailed analysis of his paintings, the good, the great, and the unfinished. There are a variety of portraits he did, but none eclipsed the Mona Lisa,... Read more

September 23, 2018

Something must be said here about the quality of Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo. It can almost be said to be a work of art in itself. The finest paper is used, the many many prints of Leonardo’s paintings and illustrations from his notebooks are top drawer, and the writing is excellent, with wonderful footnotes for those who want more. And I think in many, many ways Isaacson probes to the heart of what makes Leonardo tick. Here are some of... Read more

September 22, 2018

Leonardo had the misfortune of being born as the illegitimate son of Piero of Vinci in 1452. He was never recognized as a legitimate son of Piero though there relationship was not entirely still-born or unfruitful. His father did help him get commissions once his artistic talents and other skills became apparent. Leonardo never married, never sired any children, but as a 20, 30 and 40 something man and later, he did have a fondness for pretty boys, not merely... Read more

September 21, 2018

Walter Isaacson is a very skilled writer of historical biography. We have dealt already with his bio of Ben Franklin on this blog, and now we turn to his most recent effort— a comprehensive biography of Leonardo, born in the little town of Vinci in Italy. Like the Franklin bio this shows all the signs of copious research and skillful writing in its almost 600 pages. Published in 2017 it has been on various bestseller lists, and rightly so. Among... Read more

September 20, 2018

The Divine Identity Who can divine, the divine identity Of three in one, and one in three? Rather than revel in the secrets of its beauty I must settle for the beauty of its secrets… Though not without regrets. Does the word God refer to a person Or instead to a thrice shared identity? While I may ponder until weak and weary I’ll not plumb the depths of that sort of Trinity. It’s not like one clover containing three leaves... Read more

September 19, 2018

Like many of you, I’ve been reeling from the news about Bill Hybels and Willow Creek, and been following my friend Scot McKnight’s commentary on this right along. Here is a recent news report about the mess…. In this post, I simply want to deal with one of the contributing causes to this debacle, something that is endemic to independent churches that are not answerable to outside accountability structures and persons (a bishop, an accountability group, etc). I say... Read more

September 18, 2018

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September 17, 2018

THE HABITS OF THE MIND Infinite curiosity The mind never rests….. Searching and probing, The better, the best. Imagination’s fantasies Transforming the real Infusing emotion Into things that do not feel…. The tears of a tree The smile of a sun Worry lines on a rock Drooping flowers, undone. But motion is not emotion Nor brightness a smile A wind is not a spirit A stream has no guile An active observer Transforms every scene Reads his own thoughts Into... Read more

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