Monthly Archives: January 2013

Christianity vs. Feminism and Everything Else

One of the great testimonies to the truth of our faith is the fact that it works. I don’t like the way that sounds, but I won’t edit it. It’s pragmatism, but only, I hope, in the best sense.

I am 48 years old. I have been a Christian for 30 of those years; I celebrated my spiritual “birthday” on August 15th of last year. I bring this up to point out the fact that I now have a relatively long history of watching my own life and watching the lives of others from the vantage point of Christianity.

Here’s what I mean: Many times I have failed to obey Christ. His Word has beckoned me to live a certain way, to do a certain thing, and I have not heeded that way. And…like all other Christians, I have had my share of successes too – those times when I have heeded His Word, or, in the words of the West Point cadet prayer, “(chosen) the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” And over thirty years, I can unabashadly proclaim to a watching world that there is a blessing in following Christ (yes, even to a martyr’s death), and…not always, but often, there is great pain in disobeying Him.

a_4x-horizontal[1]I thought of this because this morning I read Denny Burk and considered a quote from feminist leader, Elizabeth Wurtzel.  If you don’t know, in 1994, Wurtzel published the megahit, Prozac Nation, and did so at the tender age of only 24.  As Burk states, “Wurtzel has spent the better part of her adult life living the feminist dream in New York City as a successful writer and Yale-educated attorney. Yet for all the fabulous accomplishments bedazzling her ‘fabulous’ life, she says this in a recent article for New York Magazine:”

It had all gone wrong. At long last, I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys. I was still subletting in Greenwich Village, instead of owning in Brooklyn Heights. I had loved everything about Yale Law School—especially the part where I graduated at 40—but I spent my life savings on an abiding interest, which is a lot to invest in curiosity. By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.

I was amazed to discover that, according to The Atlantic, women still can’t have it all. Bah! Humbug! Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present. I do have a royalty account, some decent skills, and, apparently, a lot of human capital. But because of choices I have made, wisely and idiotically, because I had principles or because I was crazy, I have no assets and no family. I have had the same friends since college, although as time has gone on, the daily nature of those relationships has changed, such that it is not daily at all. But then how many lost connections make up a life? There is my best friend from law school, too busy with her toddler; the people with whom I spent New Year’s in a Negril bungalow not so long ago, all lost to me now; every man who was the love of my life, just for today; roommates, officemates, classmates: For everyone who is near, there are others who are far gone.

Following Jesus…works.  Not following Him…doesn’t.  This truth is not only all over God’s word, but it is evident in the broken culture all around us as well.


Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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I would like to make 2013 a year where I delight in “interruptions.”  Personally, I can talk a lot about God’s sovereignty, but I also easily forget that He is in control of every aspect of my life, especially when my day doesn’t go as I hoped.  Though I work out a plan, He is the ultimate planner. I read this blog today and was encouraged.  The author quotes C.S. Lewis who has a great truth about the subject.  I think this quote needs to go where I can read it every day in 2013…

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”

(from a 1943 letter from C.S. Lewis, included in Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis)


Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


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We Don’t Say Goodbye

Michael SmithI spent the summer of 1984 in Indianapolis with 50 or 60 of my closest friends.

It was a Navigator’s summer training program, and together with college students from all over Illinois, I lived for about 8 weeks at a sorority house on the Butler University campus.  We worked during the day – I managed to find work through Manpower, the temporary employment agency – and we all did Bible studies and heard messages in the evenings and on weekends.   It was a busy summer, and I grew a lot.

But it was that summer (most likely at the end of our time together) that I first remember hearing Michael W. Smith’s “Friends are friends forever,” a great song, even if it does seem a little cheeky three decades later.

The song came back to me after I spent some time with Elisabeth tonight.  We were reading A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, the fascinating love story of Sheldon (“Van”) and his wife Davy, and how they came to know Jesus partly through the ministry of C.S. Lewis.  The couple was studying and living at Oxford when they began to research Christianity.  A seeker, Van wrote C.S. Lewis, by that time a famous Oxford don, and they all ended up becoming friends.  The book contains 18 letters from Lewis, and recounts some of his many conversations with Van.  Lots of fun for C.S. Lewis buffs.

Anyway, in the chapter we finished tonight, Van and Davy are leaving Oxford, and Van takes time for one last pint with his friend.  The theme of Michael W. Smith’s anthem song is resonant in their farewell:

On that last day I met C.S. Lewis at the Eastgate for lunch.  We talked, I recall, about death or rather, awakening after death.  Whatever it would be like, we thought, our response to it would be “Why, of course! Of course it’s like this.  How else could it have possibly been?” We both chuckled at that.  I said it would be a sort of coming home, and he agreed.  Lewis said that he hoped Davy and I would be coming back to England soon, for we mustn’t get out of touch.  “At all events,” he said with a cheerful grin, “we’ll certainly meet again, here – or there.”  Then it was time to go, and we drained our mugs.  When we emerged on to the busy High with the traffic streaming past, we shook hands, and he said: “I shan’t say goodbye.  We’ll meet again.” Then he plunged into the traffic.  I stood there watching him.  When he reached the pavement on the other side, he turned round as though he knew somehow that I would still be standing there in front of the Eastgate.  Then he raised his voice in a great roar that easily overcame the noise of the cars and buses.  Heads turned and at least one car swerved.  “Besides,” he bellowed with a great grin, “Christians NEVER say goodbye.”


Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


Confessions of a (Former) Christian Fiction Snob

images[1]I’ve been a fan of audible books for a while now, and recently signed up for another year’s worth of books on (Current “listens” include The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkien, The King’s Cross – Tim Keller and another one I’ll mention in a moment).

But this past summer I also discovered, and ergo, I also discovered Christian fiction.  Yeah, yeah, I know – I’m late to the party.  Mind you, some years ago I had read the first of the Left Behind series (aptly titled, Left Behind), but it apparently didn’t capture my attention because I stopped there.  But this past July I took advantage of a free book from Christian audio (they offer one every month) and downloaded The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin.

I was gloriously transported to the world of Chiveis, and lived there for the next couple of months as I also downloaded the other two of Litfin’s trilogy, The Gift and The Kingdom.

The Chiveis trilogy is the story of the earth some 400 years into the future, where the world as we know it has been destroyed by plague and nuclear war, and those left are thrown back into medieval times, a world of swords and horses and parchment. The hero and heroine, Teofil and Anastasia, live in the mighty Kingdom of Chiveis, where the ruins of our civilization are all around, but the Bible and thus Christianity have been lost.

What a story! And it was more than fiction, because when Teo and Ana find a Bible (only the Old Testament – the New Testament has rotted away in the copy they discover) we get to come along discovering God’s word afresh.

And now I confess: lurking in the back of my mind had been a bit of snobbery regarding Christian fiction, so I appreciated what Randy Alcorn, a Christian fiction writer himself, had say about this in an article in World magazine this past year:

Recently, at a party, a Christian leader raved about various novels. When asked about a particular Christian novelist, he replied, “I never read Christian fiction. It’s predictable, sugar-coated, preachy, and poorly written!”

“Can you give some examples?” I asked.

He couldn’t. Not one. He’d last read Christian fiction 20-some years ago. I politely suggested that since he never reads it, his opinion might not be up-to-date and well-informed.

I’ve encountered the same stereotypical comments countless times, often from people repeating what they’ve heard. I read secular fiction, but also enjoy novels with a Christian worldview. I’m part of an online group of 263 Christ-following novelists that started in 1999 with 15 of us. I’ve witnessed firsthand these writers’ dedication to improving their craft. Some of their work, in my opinion, is breathtakingly good.

Amen.  And I apologize for my own earlier foolishness, Randy.  I stand corrected.

It’s funny that as I write this, Diane and I have started listening to The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy on our drive back from her sister’s place in Colorado.  I imagine I got it for its rave listener reviews, but I don’t know if we will continue.  Pat Conroy is an amazing writer, to be sure, but two hours into the read, we have descended into an abyss, and I’m not sure I want to keep exploring this dark world.

Mind you, I would never say that all novels must have happy endings (the real world does not).  However, aside from pain and death, as followers of Christ, we know there is also a reality called resurrection.  There is the glorious word redemption. And there is a beautiful concept called grace.  Should I be surprised that Christian writers can  represent these truths better than any others?


Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


Hobby Lobby in Trouble

images[5]A month or two ago I wrote to David Green of Hobby Lobby. It was a Hail Mary pass, to be sure, but I had read this article about his generous contributions to Christian causes, and in light of our church’s capital campaign, “So All May Know,” it seemed reasonable to give it a try. He had helped many others. Why not ask him to consider helping our church? In my letter, I told the same story about my father that I told in our many meetings, passing on our vision to reach a lost world.

But now it seems Mr. Green and his family-owned company will not be helping as many in days to come, and if the Federal Government has anything to do with it, they may never help anyone again.

If you don’t know the story, Denny Burk sums it up well here. This is an excerpt:

I am astonished that more Americans aren’t in an uproar about what is happening to Hobby Lobby right now. As many of you know, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit earlier this year to try and get relief from Obamacare’s abortion mandate. The case is still pending appeal, but the Supreme Court just rejected their request for an emergency injunction. In response, the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby have said they have no intention to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs required by Obamacare. That means that beginning on January 1, the United States government will fine Hobby Lobby $1.3 million dollars per day until Hobby Lobby complies.

This is the most egregious violation of religious liberty that I have ever seen. The United States Government is forcing these Christian business owners to pay for abortion inducing drugs in their employees’ insurance plans. It doesn’t matter that the law violates their religious liberty to conduct business in a way that is consistent with their conscience. Obamacare mandates that these Christians comply or face fines that will put them out of business.

1.3 million dollars a day.  A lot of churches could be helped with that money.  A lot of Kingdom causes could be advanced.  But until the government relents, it looks like Hobby Lobby will be helping far fewer people, while holding to God’s standard of life.

Denny Burk concludes:

The first line of the Bill of Rights says this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Obamacare prohibits the free exercise of the owners of Hobby Lobby. Who’s next?


Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Les Misérables

I knew that grace was showcased in Les Miserables, the latest blockbuster released on Christmas day, but I imagesCA9XGINMdidn’t know just how much.  We went with a large cohort to see a matinee yesterday afternoon.

The movie is based on the musical which began its run on Broadway in 1987 and ran until 2003, the fourth longest running Broadway play of all time.  Victor Hugo wrote the novel in 1862 on which the play itself was based, and it is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century.

Diane and I spent a memorable night in Chicago seeing Les Mis, probably 15 years ago.  It was only memorable because our seats were so awful, the very definition of nosebleed.  We also went in unfamiliar with the songs and storyline (not recommended for musicals), and found ourselves scratching our heads most of the expensive night.

Anyway, Les Mis is the story of Jean Valjean, a man sentenced to 19 years hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread to feed starving relatives.  Every preacher worth his salt has told the story of an early scene from the tale, where Valjean, upon his release, finds shelter in the home of a bishop and returns the favor by stealing silver from the kind and godly man.  He is caught by the gendarmes, and brought to the bishop, whereupon, the man shocks the police and Valjean, by saying (from the novel):

“Ah! here you are!” he exclaimed, looking at Jean Valjean. “I am glad to see you. Well, but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?”

It is a tremendous display of grace, and the bishop later tells the criminal Valjean that he has bought his soul for God – use this incident to go and become an honest man.  He does indeed, and we witness the power of grace to transform (see Titus 3:7, 8).

Now what I didn’t know (because I hadn’t read the novel and the nosebleed seats were no help) is that the power of grace is all throughout the story, and most wonderfully set against the harsh taskmaster known as law. In short, I don’t know if I’ve seen a more “Christian” movie in years.

I wonder if Sacha Baron Cohen realized it.


Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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