ornament 28 May 2003 ornament

Truth Unfettered is Dangerous

William F. Buckley enters the fray over evangelical Christians in Iraq. Buckley, a Catholic, brings a rare level-headed response from a non-evangelical on the issue. If you’re not familiar with the discussion, it involves the question of whether or not Christian aid groups, such as Franklin Graham’s Samaratan’s Purse and others, should be allowed to evangelize the Muslim Iraqis to whom they distribute aid.

To the prevailing mindset, this is one of the most dispicable crimes. To think that someone would be so bigoted as attempt to tell Iraqi Muslims that they are wrong in their beliefs. Buckley points out that this is not just a problem with dealing with Muslims–he writes, “Now the modern temper shrinks from anything confrontational, even between a father and his 12-year-old son caught smoking.”

Buckley also points out a parallel that I’ve noticed for quite some time. He likens the “harsh” comments by leading evangelicals to Ronald Reagan’s labeling of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” The words were appalling to the ears of the accused, but the noise that it made reverberated throughout the Soviet Union, and there were some who upon hearing the truth were given hope.

Those who have publicly labeled Islam as evil have taken their lumps. Franklin Graham, Jerry Vines, and others have been castigated (even by their evangelical brethren) for shutting down the lines of communication, and driving seeking Muslims away. I’ve even heard from many of my fellow seminarians that comments such as these make we evangelicals look backward and set us back in the lines of communication that we have established. Undoubtedly, calling someone’s religion evil, and attacking the character of that religion’s founder (as Vines did of Mohammed last year) does shut some lines of communication–just as Ronald Reagan highly offended the Politburo with his remarks.

I’ve long had the hunch that sometimes our society gets so involved with communicating effectively that they communicate nothing very effectively indeed. This is a whole other topic for another day, but the point is that sometimes the truth needs to be heard in its raw form, no matter what the consequences. Those who will become angry were already angry to begin with (most of this “offensive” rhetoric was post 9/11, mind you…), but there will be some, who do hear and are affected by the truth (the pravda, if you will). Like tiny fissures in the wall of a dam, they will not be noticed at first, until these small cracks grow.

Granted, the Apostle Peter tells us that we are to bear witness with gentleness and reverence (1 Pet. 3:15), but we must make sure that what we bear witness to is the truth, and not just to good communication lines.

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ornament 26 May 2003 ornament

Johnny Estes, R.I.P.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

This evening, my great-uncle, Johnny Estes died following an ever-so-brief bout with bone cancer. The husband of my grandmother’s sister, Uncle Johnny was a pillar of the town of Maryville, TN. For many years he was a school principal, and a pastor. I know that before its recent population explosion, one would be hard-pressed to find a person in Maryville who had not been touched by Uncle Johnny’s influence.

I remember Uncle Johnny as a large, vociferous man who would never be short of an opinion on any given subject. The strange thing is that he actually had something to say, rather than just rattling off empty thoughts as many are given to do. He was one of those rare saints who would never let his stature get to his head, and behind many of his fantastic stories was a man as kind-hearted as anyone could ever meet.

I recall from my childhood his colorful description of how to get to his house. He said that you would have to go through the woods and swing the grapevine over the creek to get to his house. There is no doubt that Johnny Estes swung into heaven on a grapevine today. And I’ll bet he was pulled to the bank by the One who has taken his pain away. Here he will be missed.

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ornament 25 May 2003 ornament

Summer Reading

I always love summers (especially academic ones) because I get to read more. Not that I don’t read enough the rest of the year, but in the summer, what I read is dictated by me. I get to pick, and this suits me just fine.

This summer have plans for many books to complete, though it is unlikely that I’ll finish all of them, and it is very likely that more will be added to the list as the summer rolls along. I just completed Atticus, by Ron Hansen, which I found to be an excellent book, which I highly recommend to anyone. Hansen has a laid-back style that can convey a powerful story while giving you time to think about it. You will not get bogged down in this book, yet it is very profound.

I just began The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. Both National Review and The Mars Hill Audio Journal speak highly of Percy, and this book has some pretty strong reviews. I’ll let you know about it when I finish.

The other books I am reading/intending to read include:
Love In Hard Places, by D.A. Carson
Notes from Underground, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Final Beast, by Frederick Buechner
The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky (I started this one a couple of years ago and have yet to finish!)

For other books I am interested in (and you might be too!) check out my wish list. What are you reading this summer?

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ornament 22 May 2003 ornament

Matrix Reloaded

Here is my promised, and brief review of The Matrix Reloaded. The effects are out-of-this world, the fight scenes borderlined on the beautiful, and the storyline was disappointing.

The movie ran like a director’s cut at times, including scenes that could easily have been left out. There were good philosophical questions raised, but they didn’t seem to be as intertwined with the storyline of the movie as, for example Signs. The ideas (primarily the issues of determinism/indeterminism)were not totally abstract, they only were dealt with in an abstract way, giving the story a sort of disjointedness.

The film was very entertaining, however, and leaves little doubt that you’ll be watching The Matrix: Revolutions in November.

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SPF 15 is worthless

I’m back from the windy and sunny South Carolina coastline. The sun was yellow, but my previously blinding-white skin is now quite pink. No more. From now on, it’s SPF 30+.

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ornament 19 May 2003 ornament

Travel Blog

For those few souls who read this blog, I am currently traveling, therefore you won’t be seeing much activity (of course, I’ve been in exams and writing papers since I started the blog, so there hasn’t been much activity anyway). I’ll be back soon, and I’ll have my Matrix Reloaded review up. I saw it last night here in Hilton Head, SC.

Gotta get back to the beach…

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ornament 14 May 2003 ornament

Kentucky Fried Brain

The Spring semester 2003 is now finished for me. What day is it? The last few have been a blur. It’s always difficult to accelerate to the frenetic pace of the last month of the semester, and then come to a sudden halt. But I suppose I will manage. Shouldn’t I be doing something?…

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Leisure Time

Ok, my brain is fried, but that does not give me the excuse to let it go. This article in National Review today is required reading. The author Gleaves Whitney discusses the nature of leisure and what we are to do with it. Read it–in your leisure time.

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ornament 10 May 2003 ornament

How much do you read?

This page has some interesting profiles of “America’s Biggest Readers.” The Number One reader in America, Harriet Klausner, reportedly reads 20 books per week! And I thought I was a hero for approaching 20 since this year began.

The fastest reader in the world can read a 240 page book in 20 minutes, with comprehension! I have roughly 400 pages to finish in the next few days. Hmmm…

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ornament 9 May 2003 ornament

I Guess I’ll Never Grow Up

Growing up takes too long, and I haven’t met all the requirements. Does this mean I can order from the kids’ menu at restaurants?

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