Various and sundry No. 1

Various and sundry No. 1 November 16, 2012
Various and Sundry
jetheriot, Flickr


Don’t do it this way. Frank Viola has a worthwhile post on avoiding certain pitfalls in your Christian walk. But — and this is fun — he presents it all in the negative, offering 10 things you can do to ensure you blow it.

“Rarely (or never) read books with spiritual depth or listen to Christ-centered messages by other servants of God,” he says for one. “Forget the contribution of the body of Christ, past and present. Throw out spiritual education. Live under the delusion that all you need is the Holy Spirit and your Bible.”


Jesus for president? “Would we vote for Jesus for president?” asked pastor Robert Gelinas in a recent sermon. “I think every party would want him. The Republicans would want him. The Democrats would want him. Until he opened his mouth.”

I think that’s spot on. My friend Jordan Poss shared a fascinating story of several students’ first take on the Sermon on the Mount. The verdict? They hated it.

By the way, it’s worth watching Robert Gelinas’s sermon:


Lincoln’s Battle With God. Stephen Mansfield’s new book Lincoln’s Battle With God is out. “The value of Mansfield’s study is its sharp focus, its detail about those who influenced Lincoln and the author’s willingness to let some aspects of the president’s belief remain mysterious or not fully resolved,” said the Associated Press. As a point of self disclosure, I signed this book for Nelson — so, vested interest, all that — but I agree wholeheartedly with the AP on this one.


The wisdom of others. Adrian Warnock reviews Al Mohler’s new book, The Conviction to Lead.

Why are so many of us afraid of being leaders, and shy away from it? Is it just a godly humility? I think that may be some of it, after all who wants to follow a Christian leader who is eagerly seeking advancement for themselves? But at the same time, if the call of God comes . . . it is important not to turn it down too hastily. . . . God makes us able. He does this through, among other things, the wisdom of others.


Politics is an expression of your faith. Bill Blankschaen has a good corrective to those who blindly assume that faith and politics do not intersect.

“[W]hen I say that my theology most definitely determines my politics I mean that what I believe about the nature of reality, including at the core, what I believe about the Divine, necessarily determines how I act when it comes to issues that affect my neighbor,” he writes. “I think that everyone votes based on their theology, that is on what they believe about the nature of God, reality, and the way the universe is supposed to work, because they cannot do otherwise.”

We always vote our values. We just disagree about them. That’s democracy. For what it’s worth, this forms an intriguing part of the later narrative in Mansfield’s book on Lincoln; he compares the First and Second Inaugural to good effect.

That said, here’s one expression of faith in politics we would do well to avoid: “Egyptian jihadist calls for removal of Sphinx, Pyramids.” Down with . . . Horus? Killjoy.


The terrible speed of mercy. Of court, faith influences more than politics. This review of Jonathan Rogers’ wonderful book on Flannery O’Connor, The Terrible Speed of Mercy, gives you a good taste of the book. Jonathan focuses on how Flannery’s faith influenced her art. (More self disclosure: Consult the above.)


It was Greek to me. Well, Latin. The pope is concerned about the decline of Latin and is taking steps to turn the tide. Or maybe Greek after all. When I read the story, I was reminded that Augustine never learned Greek — and look where that got him.


Lights, camera, distraction! Joe Carter has two great posts on movies. The first is a list of 110 overrated and underrated films. I was happy to see Miller’s Crossing finally get a nod. If you’re a gangster-movie fan, it’s worth seeing. Joe also has a list of 50 memorable-but-obscure movie quotes, including this one from Miller’s Crossing:

Eddie Dane: How’d you get the fat lip?
Tom Reagan: Old war [wound]. Acts up around morons.

It made me laugh. Crossing is an early Coen bros. flick.

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