Saturday, June 28

Made for Another World

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most profitable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

Salad Bar Faith

Contemporary religion in America is a “salad bar where people heap on upbeat beliefs they like and often leave the veggies--like doctrines--behind.” According to a Pew Forum Religion & Public Life's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey released this past week, there are so many ways of seeing God that “the highest authority is now the lowest common denominator.”

• The survey found that 92% of American adults believe in God, and 58% say they pray at least once a day. But only 51% believe this "God" is actually "personal."

• 78% overall say there are “absolute standards of right and wrong,” but only 29% rely on their religion to delineate these standards. The majority (52%) turn to "practical experience and common sense," with 9% relying on philosophy and reason, and 5% on scientific information.

• 74% say “there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” but far fewer (59%) say there's a “hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

• 70%, including a majority of all major Christian and non-Christian religious groups, say “many religions can lead to eternal life.”

• 68% say “there's more than one true way to interpret the teachings" of their faith.

• 50% say “homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society."

• Only 9% believe education should be in any way "related to" their faith.

• Only 44% are concerned to “preserve their faith's traditional beliefs and practices.” Meanwhile, most Catholics (67%), Jews (65%), mainline Christians (56%) and Muslims (51%) say their religion should either "adjust to new circumstances" or "adopt modern beliefs and practices."

• One in four Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox Christians expressed some doubts about God's existence, as did 60% of all Jews. But at the same time, 21% of self-identified Atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8% "absolutely certain" of it.

Not surprisingly, the study's authors say there's a “stunning” lack of alignment between the beliefs and practices of most Americans and their professed faiths. Thus, they concluded that religion in America is "three thousand miles wide but only three inches deep."

Wednesday, June 25

Parish Pres in the News

A story today in the local Nashville newspaper, the Tennessean, describes the progress we're making toward a genuinely unique conception of church and community.

The vision of a parish model has meant that at Parish Presbyterian Church we have deliberately attempted a “deep and slow” Gospel work. No razzle-dazzle. No hoopla. No blitzkrieg of programming. Just in-depth Bible teaching, worship marked by reverence and awe, intentionality in both community and outreach, a focus on covenantal succession among our children, a heart for growth through church-planting rather than mere church-expansion, and purposeful mission to our city and our world. It is has been a distinctive vision right from the start--what will be over the years, we pray, an authentic Kingdom vision. It hasn’t always been deep and slow (it really, really hasn’t been slow), but our distinctiveness remains a vibrant and dynamic aspect of what it is the Lord is doing in our midst.

That distinctiveness has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives together--including the way we have thought about facilities, buildings, and property. Meeting in the beautiful and historic downtown chapel of Christ Community Church has been absolutely wonderful--even though we have already outgrown it. Indeed, the chapel has shaped many of our expectations and assumptions as we have sought a permanent home for the congregation. We have wanted something that reinforces our theology of covenant community, that reinforces our commitment to Franklin and it heritage, and that rooted us in a neighborhood rather than just placing us on some sort of a sprawling campus.

Our property search committee looked at more than a hundred existing buildings and undeveloped plots of land throughout the Franklin area. We were willing to think outside the box in order to hold steadfastly to our vision. Alas, opportunities to actually be woven into the fabric of an existing neighborhood were scarce to none. It began to look as if we would have to settle for something other than a community-based plan.

Then, we found a piece of property just over a mile from the downtown square. The 23 acres was far more than what we were looking for, but the price was tens of thousands of dollars less than the other things we were seeing on the market--and the property is flat, build-able, and within walking-distance of a myriad of parks and communities where our folks live and work and play. What to do?

We think we have come up with a very creative and extraordinarily satisfying solution--providing an unprecedented opportunity for our congregation and a remarkable platform for our future church-planting work. We have partnered with a builder and a developer to design a new community with our little church right in the heart of it. It will provide for Middle Tennessee the very first LEED-certified “green” development. And it will satisfy our desire to have a genuine parish that will be a blessing to our neighbors--with lots of open parks, village greens, running-biking-walking trails, and community gathering spaces. Of course, there will also be ample facilities we'll be able to share with our ministry partners, coops, schools, and missions.

We are praying that this exciting vision, as it comes to fruition, might be able to have a wide-ranging impact on Franklin, on the church-planting movement in the PCA, and on our world.

Tuesday, June 24

Scots, Wha Hae

In commemoration of the great Scottish victory at Bannockburn, Robert Burns penned one of his most famous verses on the anniversary of the battle against the English--on this day in 1786:

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour:
See approach proud Edward's power;
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's King and law;
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'
Let him on wi' me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or die!

Midsummer Day

Activities on this day in tradition-minded English communities include the lavish decorating of the village well. This area then becomes the focal point for music recitals and "morris-dancing" throughout the rest of the day. The festivities were originally intended to celebrate the ultimate victory of the faithful martyr, John the Baptist--as the old Midsummer carol asserted:

When bloody Herod reigned king,
Within Judea's land,
Much woes his cruel will did bring,
By bloody fierce command.
Amongst the rest with grief oppressed,
Was good Saint John there slain,
Who on this day, 'midst sport and play,
A martyred death did gain.

Sunday, June 22

Good Aim

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither." C.S. Lewis

TR's Third Party Try

On this day in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt accepted the presidential nomination of the Progressive Party after a power struggle at the Republican Convention disqualified all the Roosevelt delegates thus denying him the nomination--this, despite the fact that TR had handily won every primary.

William Taft, Roosevelt's Republican successor to the White House, had failed to live up to the leadership demands and policies of the former president. Incensed by the inability of Taft to effectively maintain his vision of "progressive conservatism," Roosevelt determined to return to the office of president. He condemned Taft's administration for being too beholden to big business and special interest groups.

Running on a platform consisting of the Ten Commandments, the immensely popular TR sought to promote women's suffrage, limits on government incursion in labor disputes, and the prohibition of child labor. During the general election the Progressive ticket easily out-polled Taft and the Republican establishment, but when wounds from an attempted assassination kept TR from most of the final two months of campaigning, the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, was able to eke out a victory.

Saturday, June 21

Summer Solstice

The earliest known poem written in English (composed circa 1226), was written about this day, the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Appropriately, it is the very first entry in Arthur Quiller-Couch's essential anthology, The Oxford Book of English Verse:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!;
Groweth sed, and bloweth mead,
And springeth the wude nu--sing cuccu.

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu;
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thu, cuccu:
Ne swike thu naver nu;
Sing cuccu, nu sing cuccu,
sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu!

Friday, June 20

What You See

“To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice. It is never a question of who is right but what is right.” John Buchan

"If you see it, you are probably called to it." Tristan Gylberd


Most of us tend to clutter our lives with so much that is unnecessary. We have too many things. We have too many commitments. We have too many distractions. When I am able to clear away the competing concerns, the niggling disruptions, and the clanging alarms of my crowded life, I find that I am much better able to do the things I am called to do. I am in a much better state of mind. According to Thomas Chalmers, “The accumulation of mere stuff is often a dead weight that hampers our freedom to move, to go, to do what we have always known that we should.”

Thursday, June 19

Denny Denson

Today both the Tennessean and the Williamson Herald newspapers published tributes to a great teacher, pastor, reformer, statesman, and friend, Denny Denson. Though he will be sorely missed here in this poor fallen world, we can rejoice in knowing that Denny is now face to face with his "Beloved Master" in Glory.

Wednesday, June 18

The Price of Dearest Peace

"When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith." Abraham Kuyper

Inevitable Controversy

All leaders are controversial. They invariably risk the ire of others. Because they stand for certain things, they necessarily stand against certain things. This causes them to stand out. It makes them more than a little peculiar in this plain vanilla world of smothering uniformity. G.K. Chesterton asserted, “A man with a definite belief always appears bizarre, because he does not change with the world; he has climbed into a fixed star and the earth whizzes below him like a zoetrope. Millions of mild black-coated men call themselves sane and sensible merely because they always catch the fashionable insanity, because they are hurried into madness after madness by the maelstrom of the world. The man with a definite belief is sure to be the truer friend. Therefore mark the inequalities of the world and celebrate them as matters of definition and preciseness.”

In order to maintain a sense of equilibrium, a leader must keep several things in mind as he or she does what’s worth doing:

1. To affirm one thing is to deny another. It is not possible to take a stand without calling into question another stand. And that is invariably an offense. There is simply no way around it. A strong leader is always careful, tries to measure language, and seeks to moderate extremes. But no matter how hard he or she may try, someone, somewhere, somehow is going to be offended. Andrew Jackson admitted, “I know if I were to say the sky was blue, someone would take great offense, as if I had purposefully neglected the prerogatives of the multitudes of Chinamen then dwelling under the pall of night.”

2. Accept the nature of the struggle. Our world is inclined to polarization. People take sides. And since there are at least two sides to every issue, folks are going to hurry into opposite lines in order to oppose one another. You can be sure that there will be folks along each flank itching to pick a fight. That is just the way things are. It may not be particularly desirable. But it is reality. The good leader is able to assess the situation as it actually is—not as it ought to be or used to be or one day will be. John Quincy Adams confessed, “It is never my desire to fight but it is always my intention to do so. I am resigned to such a posture only because I know the nature of man is contention and not conciliation. Thus, the vast majority of the moral work which needs to be done will be accomplish only after the clash and clatter of conflict.”

3. If you have to fight, fight fair. All is not fair in either love or war. There are ethical restraints to which we must give heed. We may be forced into conflict against our wills, but we need not be forced into concupiscence against our wills. We can stick to the point. We can avoid personal attacks. We can avoid mud slinging. We can be accurate. We can maintain decorum, respect, and integrity. We can fight fair. If we are fighting for the right thing, the least we can do is fight in the right way. If we are fighting for justice, the least we can do is fight justly. If we are fighting for that which is good and true, the least we can do is use goodness and truth as the ground not only of our ends but also of our means.

4. Admit to the mystery and complexity of the world. Some folks want to reduce everything in the world to simple formulas. They want to be able to summarize everything in an easy to grasp shorthand. They invariably attribute the doings of history to this, that, or another vast right wing conspiracy. But the fact is that history is full of the indecipherable mysteries of providence, and thus any attempt to reduce the process of its legends, epics, movements, heroes, and villains to a mere mechanical or material science is destined to be more than a little ridiculous—as the sad legacies of Marx, Gibbons, and Toynbee so readily demonstrate. It is true that certain undeniably fixed milestones emerge—like the battles of Hastings and Waterloo, the regicides of Louis XVI and Charles I, the triumphs of Bismarck and Richelieu, and the tragedies of the Hapsburgs and Hoenstauffens—and we can, from them, build up certain vague rules regarding the onward march of civilization. But for the most part, the events of history have the habit of coming up out of nothing, like the little particles of ice which float to surface of the Seine at the beginning of a frost, or like the little oak trees that crop up everywhere like weeds in the broad fields of East Sussex. They arise silently and unpredictably. And that surprises us. It is too easy for us to forget—or to try to ignore—the fact that the doings of man are on the knees of an inscrutable providence. One of the most important and most neglected aspects of the story of men and nations is the fact that the story is not yet complete—and will not be until providence has run its resolute course. We can only truly comprehend the issues and events that swirl around us when we recognize them as part and parcel of the ethical out-working of that inscrutable providence. The irony of this is so large that it may be too large to be seen. To admit as much is the better part of wisdom.

5. Match medium and message. Leaders believe that how they communicate the riches of truth is no less important than what they communicate. As a result they will actually demonstrate the what in the how. Substantive messages should be communicated substantively. An appeal to history ought to be historical. An appeal to morality ought to be moral. Leaders want to effectively communicate. The question is what do they want to communicate? And how do they best go about communicating it? Hilaire Belloc once said, “If you ask me why I put Latin in my writing, it is because I have to show that it is connected with the Universal Fountain and with the European Culture, and with all that heresy combats.” And again, “Note that pendants lose all proportion. They never can keep sane in a discussion. They will go wild on matters they are wholly unable to judge. Never do they use one of those three phrases which keep a man steady and balance his mind; I mean the words (1) After all it is not my business. (2) Tut! Tut! You don't say so! And (3) Credo in Unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, Factorem omnium visibilium atque invisibilium; in which last, there is a power of synthesis that can jam all their analytical dust-heap into such a fine, tight, and compact body as would make them stare to see.” In short, the medium ought to match the message and vice versa.

The battle rages. Leaders never relish that fact—but they always recognize it and then act accordingly.


In theory, we would all claim to admire courage. In practice though, we have to admit that there is in it an unexplainable admixture of boldness and madness. Concerned with our own health and welfare, we find it more than a little extraordinary when anyone is willing to risk life and limb for the sake of others—much less for the sake of some principle. Indeed, we have become an age with a dearth of heroes. Bravery has practically become a forgotten virtue—a lost cause. Nevertheless, its allure retains as strong a grip on us today as it has each of the many generations that have preceded us:

“Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning; but give me the man who has the pluck to fight when he’s sure of losing. That’s my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat.” George Eliot

“Fear can keep a man out of danger, but courage can support him in it.” Thomas Fuller

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” Victor Hugo

“The world has no room for cowards. We must all be ready somehow to toil, to suffer, to die. And yours is not the less noble because no drum beats before you when you go out into your daily battlefields, and no crowds shout about your coming when you return from your daily victory or defeat.” Robert Lewis Stevenson

“We cannot expect a more cordial welcome than disturbers of complacency have received in any other age.” Richard Weaver

“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength. Industry and determination can do anything that genius and advantage can do and many things that they cannot.” Theodore Roosevelt

“A coward dies a thousand deaths, the valiant dies but once.” William Shakespeare

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” G.K. Chesterton

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on.” General George Patton

“The fear of God makes a hero; the fear of man makes a coward.” Alvin York

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward, it is not a compliment to say it is brave.” Mark Twain

“There is little extraordinary about the achievements of a genius, a prodigy, or a savant. Inevitably, a great leader is someone who overcomes tremendous obstacles and still succeeds. That is the essence of courage. It is the ability to maintain, in the face of grave perils, a kind of incognizance of the consequences of doing right. It is the ability to maintain great strength without any impulsive compulsion to use it—that strength is to be held in reserve until and unless it becomes necessary to use it for the cause of right.” Tristan Gylberd

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful until it became risky.” C.S. Lewis

Be Not Loose

"Where you are liberal of your loves and counsels, be sure you be not loose; for those you make friends and give your heart to, when they once perceive the least rub in your fortunes, fall away like water from ye, never found again but where they mean to sink ye." William Shakespeare

Tuesday, June 17

The Bunker Hill Oration

On this day in 1825, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the great Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston—as well as to dedicate the site of a new monument—the venerable Senator from New Hampshire, Daniel Webster delivered one of the most eloquent orations in American political history. Long studied both for its rhetorical brilliance and its civic perspective, the speech outlines the basic principles and precepts of the nation’s extraordinary experiment in liberty.

He began asserting, “We are among the sepulchers of our fathers. We are on ground distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw is into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, June 17, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on earth.”

He continued, saying, “These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of doubt. Our history and our condition, all that is gone before us, and all that surrounds us, authorize the belief, that popular governments, though subject to occasional variations, in form perhaps not always for the better, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and permanent as other systems. We know, indeed, that in our country any other is impossible. The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains. And let the sacred obligations which have developed on this generation, and on us, sink deep in our hearts.”

Finally, he concluded, “In a day of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great objects, which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these twenty-four States, are one country. Let our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our object be, Our Country, Our Whole Country, And Nothing But Our Country. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration for ever.”

As Theodore Roosevelt later recounted, “It was perhaps the greatest oration since Cicero excoriated Cataline.”

Apple's Long Shadow

According to an article today in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft should divert some of its attention away from Google and concentrate on Apple. Although Microsoft faces fierce competition from Google, particularly after its recent deals with DoubleClick and Yahoo, Apple is rapidly encroaching on territory once totally dominated by the software behemoth--such as smart handheld devices, gadgets, and gizmoes. And the market share for the Mac OSX platform has grown at an exponential rate. Even worse than that though says the article, "Apple has the attention of the American public whereas Microsoft does not."

The most serious threat to Microsoft's once near monopoly may be in Apple's desire to thrust the iPhone into the enterprise realm, through support for push e-mail, true GPS, and 3G speeds. While all smartphone manufacturers may be at risk, according to the Journal, Apple is encouraging widespread native software development, which may not only attract consumer Mac sales, but also businesses looking to ensure maximum compatibility.

Microsoft has also made some "critical blunders," says the Journal, such as the Zune, which was intended to be an iPod-killer but has become just another poor competitor, in spite of massive investment and an improved second generation. For a time, the clunky player wasn't even compatible with the flagship Windows Vista operating system. And let's not even get started on the other Vista stumbles.

Microsoft is far from a troubled company of course--and its products still dominate a host of markets. But, Apple is moving in fast. Who'd a thunk it?

Sunday, June 15

The Magna Carta

The Magna Carta, drafted by Archbishop Stephen Langton, was forced upon King John at the field of Runnymede on this day in 1215. England's barons had been on the verge of revolt against the high-handed king who had never been able to match the popularity of his dashing older brother Richard Coeur de Lion. Though the charter was not the genesis of Western liberty as is often claimed—that honor should go to Robert the Bruce’s Arbroath Declaration of 1420—the Magna Carta did guarantee several key provisions of common law for the nobles including trial by a jury and a prohibition against new taxes without permission of mediating magistrates—both of which afforded them with the rudimentary beginnings of a representational parliament. John, loathe to yield even a fraction of his power, appealed to the pope, promising to become his vassal. The pope promptly voided Magna Carta.

Kipling's Runnymede

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
'You musn't sell, delay, deny,
A freeman's right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry.
We saw 'em roused at Runnymede!

When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising "Sign!"
They settled John at Runnymed.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.

And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Thursday, June 12

Mountain Aires

Good news: the Mountain Aires are at work on a new Christmas album. According to an article in the Cary News, the gifted band "started as a group of teen homeschooled students who met to play music in the winter of 2004." With the help of Trans World Radio missionary Marvin Heath, the band soon moved from informal jam sessions to formal practices to public concerts. Their first CD, Echo the Legacy, was met with wide critical acclaim.

The group plays "a unique blend of bluegrass, old-time, folk, gospel and Celtic music. Songs featuring fiery picking follow contemplative melodies punctuated by sentimental harmonies." If you're a fan of traditional acoustic music, you'll love the Mountain Aires. I certainly do. I am very much looking forward to having their new CD for my family's Yuletide celebrations.

Wednesday, June 11

The Heroic Enterprise

"The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment, and the heroic enterprise is lost to us in all but the hearts of romantic visionaries and poets. Lament for the lost cause of chivalry.” Edmund Burke

Obama's Right Flank

Barak Obama continued his dramatic attempt to redraw America's political map yesterday when he met with a group of influential Evangelical Christian leaders in Chicago. According to an Associated Press story, the meeting actually has some of the Who's Who list of long-time Conservatives making some surprising, perhaps shocking, choices.

As Charisma Magazine publisher Steve Strang asserted, "Here is a liberal--Barak Obama--reaching out to the Christian community at a time when the conservative-- John McCain--seems to be distancing himself from the so-called Christian Right. I think McCain has a lot of work to do to get the support of the Christian community. Obama seemed to have the support of at least half of the 43 leaders who attended the Chicago meeting. And in my opinion, he made points with the rest."

We may very well be witnessing a sea change as Obama secures his right flank--a feat that would have been unthinkable even four years ago for a radical pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-government schools, secularist Liberal.

Dallas: Day 3

St. Barnabas Day

Before the change in calendars in the 18th century, the summer solstice fell on this day, which was known as the beginning of "Midsummer" or "Nightless Days."

A traditional English folk song connected the festival of St. Barnabas with the solstice:

“Barnaby Bright,
Barnaby Bright:
The longest day
And the shortest night.”

Tuesday, June 10

Dallas: Day 2

Friendly Fire

It's a problem all of us have had to face at one time or another. We wade into a spiritual battle with every intention of engaging the enemy only to discover that our greatest danger may well come from within our own ranks. We're hit by "friendly fire."

In his newest little book, Hit by Friendly Fire: What To Do When Christians Hurt You, Mike Milton addresses the astonishment and frustration, anguish and isolation, and anger and elf-doubt we inevitably feel when we are betrayed by our fellow Christians. By astutely diagnosing the problems, finding Biblical solutions, and applying the divine balm with pastoral thoughtfulness, Milton, the new president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, not only provides a solidly Biblical perspective but also real hope and healing. Published by Wipf and Stock, this is a book that seasoned pastors and newly converted Christians, idealistic students and cynical saints alike will find of great solace and direction. It is a book for all of us.

Monday, June 9

Inseparable Concepts

"The Christian and the hero should be inseparable concepts—chiefly because of the necessary effects of chivalry upon the character." Samuel Johnson

Ordinary Heroes

“On the battlefield, when surrounded and cheered by pomp, excitement, and admiration of devoted comrades, and inspired by strains of martial music and the hope of future reward, it is comparatively easy to be a hero, to do heroic deeds. But to uphold honor in ordinary circumstances, to be a hero in common life, that is a genuine achievement meriting our highest admiration.” Booker T. Washington

Dallas: Day 1

Friday, June 6

Men without Chests

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 5

Home, Sweet Home

“The longing for home is woven into the fabric of our lives and is profoundly effected by our inescapable connection to places, persons, and principles: the incremental parts of community.” Jonathan Jelliston

“The nomad spirit of modernity has dashed the integrity of community—but not the deep need for it.” Harold Beekser

There is no place like home. Of joy, of peace, of plenty, where supporting and supported, dear souls mingle into the blissful hubbub of daily life. No matter how benevolent, no matter how philanthropic, and no matter how altruistic some social or cultural alternative may be, it can never hope to match the personal intimacy of domestic relations. Except in the rare and extreme cases where strife and bitterness have completely disintegrated familial identity, there is no replacement for the close ties of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, parents and children, aunts and uncles, kith and kin. Though under siege in our day, domesticity has always been recognized as the glue that holds men and nations, cultures and communities together—and ever it shall be.

No Place Like Home

“There is no other place where the human spirit can be so nurtured as to prosper spiritually, intellectually, and temporally, than in the bosom of the family's rightful relation.” John Chrysostom

“Caesars and Satraps attempt to succor our wounds and wants with opulent circuses and eloquent promises. All such dolations are mere pretense, however, in comparison to the genuine Christian care afforded at even the coarsest family hearth.” Methodius

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” G.K. Chesterton