Monday, June 01, 2015

Book Review: The Room

It has been a long time since I have read adult fiction. I usually read nonfiction books on theology or children’s fiction (I have and teach kids). So, I decided to see what the adults were reading. :-)  The book is The Room by Jonas Karlson

The idea sounded interesting. A man, Bjorn,works in an office and finds a mysterious room that no one knows about. He starts going into it. It is just a plain room, but he finds that it helps him do his job with an increased efficiency. Problem is: none of his coworkers have been in the room. None have been in there because, well, to them it doesn’t exist. It only exists for Bjorn. The others only see Bjorn standing near the lift, next to the toilets…standing there, motionless.

Needless to say, his coworkers are a little bothered by this. They bring it up to the manager and they have several meetings to discuss how bothersome this is. So, Bjorn reluctantly agrees to stay out of the room. Or does he?

The Room is a pretty quick read and nice enough. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t seem to go anywhere, besides the room. It was a little underwhelming, to be honest. However, it was kind of refreshing that, in this day and age, an adult novel didn’t have to resort to unnecessary violence, sensuality  or course language. In that aspect, it was a decent novel. I would have like to have seen more of what the room was capable of delivering. I think that the author could have went into some intriguing directions.

I would encourage you to read this book if you would a short refreshing little read. It did not take long to read and, as I said, it was a nice enough book. I just wish it would have done a little more. I would rate this 1 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Random Thoughts

1) If someone is sick, it seems ok to call them sick. It is not a lack of faith to say so. God does not somehow punish the person because we "claimed" they were sick. Neither does He turn a deaf ear to those requesting healing. Sometimes the answer is no, but He still hears.

2) Not all discriminating is bad- in or out of the church. We can have discriminating taste when we evaluate between Bach and our child's piano playing. Both may hold a type of value, but it seems ok to say Bach was a better piano player.

3) We discriminate when we don't let 10 year olds drive, when we cross the street, choose whether to eat the old food in the fridge; when we determine if our behavior is sin or not, good or bad...

4) The pastor was speaking about distraction on Sunday. I missed 5 minutes of the sermon thinking about other stuff. Oops.

5) I am thankful for all my wife does around the house for our family.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wednesday- Random Thoughts

I have been trying to be more consistent with the blog, so here goes.

1) I have a hard time following through with things. Sometimes. I don't always know why I lose my motivation. Being tired of it is one reason.

2) The girls are better. My wife and I got a little bit of it. Not as bad as the girls, thankfully. We don't have time for that. :-)

3) My wife made some delicious vegetable soup...words never uttered from me before...delicious vegetable.

4) Speaking of delicious vegetables, my wife makes this broccoli 'thing'. It is basically cut up pieces of broccoli with garlic and olive oil baked for a while. I could eat a whole head of it, but she never lets me. Ever.

5) I am glad to be excited about my career again. It had been a while since the excitement was not forced. I love doing what I am doing. Teaching is fun.

6) Took part in a Twitter chat today #dojochat It was a new experience. I like learning from other teachers, even ones I don't know.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Music Monday- In Christ Alone

Now, I know none of you ever do this, but I do. I go to church and then I forget what is taught. Even if I have my notes, it is not always helpful because I rarely look back at them, unless it is to look at the reminder note I left myself to check/do something.

For me, music is important. I listen to a lot of podcasts, but the same applies as above. But a song can transcend the day. Even if all I remember is the chorus, it is a little theological nugget of goodness.

All the more reason that the songs we sing need to be solid Biblical songs, not just using Biblical language. It must be grounded in His Word to find any real grounding in our heart. If we are encouraged by something that has no foundation, it will not is just positive thinking. And it may be nice, but in the midst of the chaos and difficulty in life, I need something that will actually hold firm.

This is why it is important to have songs that focus more on Jesus and what He has done...versus how I feel about Jesus. Because, man, my feelings, are fickle. They toss and turn depending on my mood.

Thankfully, He never changes, and that is why this song resonates so much, for me. Anything I have is because of Him...His life, death and resurrection. Be encouraged this Easter Monday.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

Thursday Random Thoughts

1) It seems easy to fail at things I am not good at.

2) Spent the day cleaning and playing mini golf with my daughter. That was good.

3) Other daughter has been sick/lethargic for a couple days. Not so good.

4) 1st daughter is now sick while younger is better.

5) Can't shake the feeling of waiting for some other shoe to drop.

On the other hand, God is always good and sovereign. That provides some comfort in times of discontent.

Monday, March 30, 2015

You Never Marry the Right Person

By: Tim Keller
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
You never marry the right person
The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love ... ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.
The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.  Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Myth of Tolerance; or A Nation of Children

When was the last time you heard anyone on TV hollering about “tolerance”?  You do not hear many calls for “tolerance” for this sort of person or that sort of person anymore, do you?  To the contrary, the 1990s and early 2000s are over and there is a new political narrative in this country to talk about.  Let’s go over some events of the past twelve months:

1) December 2013: Duck Dynasty Controversy (with commentary)

2) April 2014: Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire | Reuters

Someone from the SFist blog reported on the matter at partly as follows:

Brendan Eich, Mozilla's anti-gay CEO, made the right decision to step down today. He will resign as CEO of the for-profit Mozilla Corporation as well as a board member of the nonprofit Mozilla foundation.

A comment on this last piece: undoubtedly its author, Brock Keeling, has the well-being of Mozilla in mind when he speaks of the “right decision.”  OkCupid’s opposition to Mozilla’s erswhile CEO obviously would have led to job layoffs at Mozilla and in turn led to a condition of hundreds of miserable, starving children of unemployed former employees of Mozilla if Brendan Eich had not stepped down.

“There’s no place in our society for it, and there’s no place in our league. We all get along. We all play with different races of people when you're in sports. That's what makes sports so beautiful. He’s put his own team in a tough situation. So I believe that once Commissioner Silver...does all his due diligence, gets all the information gathered, he’s got to come down hard. He shouldn’t own a team anymore. And he should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want to own a team anymore.’ Especially when you have African Americans renting his apartments, coming to the games, playing for him, coaching for him. This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America.


He's got to give up the team. If he doesn't like African Americans and you're in a league that is over 75% African Americans...When you've got the president of the United States saying that this is bad. You've got fans around the country—different races of people—saying it's bad, it is time for him to exit.”

“No place in our society”?  Even if your White next-door neighbor and his wife have regular, private discussions among themselves about how they think your new Black neighbors down the street have brought down property values in your neighborhood, how is that per se affecting (to say nothing of harming) Magic Johnson or any other Black person?  Meanwhile, Sterling is right about one thing in life: government has no legal right (except in extraordinary circumstances) to force anyone to sell his or her property.  Contrary to Magic Johnson’s assessment of the matter, Sterling does not have to give up anything, unless “got to give up the team” means I want Donald Sterling to give up the team.

4) May 2014: More recently the news broke concerning HGTV’s decision to render the Benham Brothers relatively jobless: CP | Believers Rally After HGTV Cancels Reality Show Starring Christian Twin Brothers Who Oppose Abortion, Homosexuality, Divorce.  This continuation of a trend, as it turns out, was only the first chapter of a larger story: SunTrust Banks recently broke financial ties with the Benham brothers, before quickly reversing their decision in a manner much like that of the Duck Dynasty incident:  CP | SunTrust Banks Reverses Decision to Drop Benham Brothers Following Strong Backlash From Conservative Customers.

5) May 2014: This last one dawned on me after Thursday, May 15 when for various reasons I had to sit and endure the audio of the Katie Couric Show.  “The Week That Was” was a guest-panel segment that ran on Thursday instead of Friday this time around, and one of the life lessons to be learned of the segment is that “sensitivity training” for Don Jones is a good thing: Michael Sam Kiss Cam & Donald Sterling Controversy – Katie Couric.  The background story is here: Miami Dolphins Fine, Suspend Safety Don Jones for Tweet Against Same-Sex Kiss | Christian News Network.

Never forget that training and education are two different things.  Training is what you do to your muscles and muscle groups.  Training is what you do to ensure that your brain recalls certain actions in a proper sequence.  Training is what you do to force certain results of different systems of the human body.  Education, on the other hand, is what you offer to intelligent beings such that they should make an informed decision on what course of action to take, whether right or wrong.  So if anyone thinks that “brainwashing” is a bad thing, then he should know that sensitivity training is no different and know that there are people in the Western World who approve of brainwashing.

Even before all this there was the whole matter of the Chick-Fil-A boycott of 2012, not to mention the continued trend of pseudo-obligatory apologies in national American politics.  What all of this suggests is the sum of two possibilities.  On the one hand, it could be that all the people who rhetorically and by propaganda used to beat people over the head to make them “tolerant” of Arabs, or non-Whites, or homosexuals as such were never interested in global tolerance but only particular tolerance--you know, the kind of Tolerance® that they want people to have or, in other words, tolerance for me but not for thee.  On the other hand, it could be that many of today’s liberals are simply hypocrites or children who forget that tolerance in general means exactly that: that people who believe in general tolerance are not exempt from the requirement to put up with people, deeds and beliefs that they do not like.

And let no one attempt to redefine what these people earlier meant in the use of the word “tolerance.”  For it is clear that in yesteryear “tolerance” meant more than simply restraining an urge to beat gay passers-by with baseball bat, but rather precluded various actions such as demands that certain people be punished with a lack of employment.  Despite whatever the word “tolerance” once meant from the mouths of liberals and the Gay Lobby, what it is now is something that should be considered in the light of both Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.  Orwell’s cautionary tales were not written for people who live on a planet other than Earth and they were not written precisely for people who already exist within a societies like communist Cuba or the Soviet Union; they were written because of the innate ability within each of us to morph into that which we used to hate and abhor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday- Random Thoughts

1) Even if all Christians were hateful, bigoted and intolerant, it does not somehow make homosexuality (or any other sin) ok.

2) It may show Christians as inconsistent, but not necessarily wrong.

3) If a child thinks he’s a rabbit, do we need to start feeding him carrots? Our gender is in our nature-it dictates whether I am a human or a boy…Allowing this only adds to the confusion. Greg Koukl

4) I like food that is made with just about any combination of these ingredients: pasta, bread, cheese, meat

5) Personal responsibility is painful at times.