Ruins or foundation?

The whole matter of finding the true foundation is made all the more difficult because these defiant weeds which have sprung upon it are called the true foundation by many; they, pulling to themselves the growth on top of the house ruins, declare, “This is the foundation and the way, all should follow it.” And with many of them we see that their new foundation sinks into soft ground, the floor settling at
different levels. This shows the difficulty of finding the true foundation…

– Peter Chelčický, The Net of Faith, 1440-1443

The cowardice of idealism

“Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.”

- G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With The World, 1910

Theatrical illusion in the service of reality

The email appeared to be Christian spam, advertising a book and no personal greeting, but why did it come to me? I looked over the website it referred to, and then I could see why.

For thirty years Paul Kuritz was a respected (and atheistic) theater professor. Then, faced with personal crises and divine interventions, he found himself praying that God wouldn’t make him a born-again evangelical Christian. God did anyway, and Kuritz wrote more about his new perspective in the Porpoise Diving Life.

I wouldn’t agree with everything in the book The Fiery Serpent, which I haven’t read. For example, the email refers to the supposedly “undeniable truth: that Christian filmmaking and theatre… are having global impact on our world today.” I’ve already summarized my disappointing first-hand experience with imaginative conversions and Christian theater here. There really is a difference between drama and real life. You might also wonder how he can use Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Kazan’s On the Waterfront as examples in a book on Christian film and theater. But Kuritz is no wooly-minded, starry-eyed artiste. He doesn’t baptize the status-quo so much as he is calling for it to change. And he is calling for filmmakers and theater people to change.

Proportional discipleship

This heresy, which I’ve called proportional discipleship, mandates that a person’s commitment to the kingdom of God should not exceed the average spiritual level of the surrounding society by more than one standard deviation. Read the rest of this entry »

Redemption and lift

Sociologists decry the weaknesses of single-parent families, but how many of them speak out against the socially-acceptable sins that made them common? Historically, repentance and conversion, not social programs, have been the only effective solution for a myriad of problems such as child abuse, child exploitation, poor working conditions, low incomes, high unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse and teen pregnancy. God helps a father to stop drinking and start working, God helps the father’s employer to provide job training and increase wages, God helps the employer’s teenaged daughter to seek love from himself instead of boys. Social scientists have even coined a term for the phenomenon: “redemption and lift.”

Draw the line

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

- G. K. Chesterton

Lead us not into decision.

“Too many of our religious convictions are negative. We act not from a positive conviction that something is right, but from a feeling that the opposite is wrong.”

A.W. Tozer

Jesus had an eye color.

When at 14, I first heard the claim that Jesus was the son of God (somehow my previous church had missed this teaching), I remember that I was most offended by the specificity of the claim, not by anything else.

I reasoned, “There are five major world religions. What are the odds that I just happened to be born into the right one?”
Read the rest of this entry »