I’ve been listening the past few days to the Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview series with Josh Harris, CJ Mahaney, and Jeff Purswell. Frankly, I’m having a hard time of it. CJ keeps strongly asserting things that I just don’t believe with.

We’ll slide over the first interview, on The Pastor and His reading, where I had to stop and shout “What planet are you on?” over the general agreement everybody had that it takes careful scheduling to make sure that you get enough time in for reading. Seriously? Next they’ll remind me to make space for food.

The one that’s really getting to me now is The Pastor and His Soul, in which CJ Mahaney insists that I am directly, morally, responsible for the way I feel. I’ve always been of the opinion that feelings sometime present me with useful information, but that they’re just as likely to lie to me about the way things are. CJ tells pastors that if, over a period of time, they detect that their passion, their devotion to Christ is flagging, they need to take immediate and sometimes drastic action. Clear away hours in your schedule, study books and bible verses that have the appropriate effect on the way you feel. Find some way to adjust the way you feel about Jesus, immediately.

Two thoughts, off the top of my head –

  1. What about the “Dark night of the soul?” What about dry times? What about people who aren’t so blessed with strong happy emotions. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Some people are just preternaturally depressed. Am I guilty because I don’t feel devoted enough?
  2. Secondly, I know that this series is devoted to pastors, and there’s an imperative to pastors to make space in their schedule for devotions. That’s a privilege that pastors have. But if there’s a moral imperative to feel a certain way the predominant amount of the time, and if I can get that feeling right if I just spend enough time in prayer and reading the right kind of books, what does that say to the layman? “My pastor gets to feel a certain way because he gets to spend enough time in his prayer closet. Me, I don’t have that time at my disposal. I guess I’m just a second class Christian”?

Big Frothy Mess

I continue to be perplexed by the subtleties of the will of God. That’s probably a bad sentence to start on, but the other openers I thought of really weren’t much better.

I’ve just finished reading, at a friend’s request, a book on finding the will of God, and why you shouldn’t. It’s literally titled Finding the Will of God: a Pagan Notion? by Bruce Waltke. But it’s not nearly so bad as it sounds. He’s mostly against something he calls Christian divination – that practice of fumbling about looking for cryptological Providential hints God might have hidden concerning any major decisions – which admittedly sounds more like perusing the horoscopes than any faithful pursuit of God’s plan for your life. He also seems to be against asking God to communicate directly to you about your plans (a point on which I differ), mostly I think because he believes God does that relatively infrequently, and only on His own schedule.

The odd thing has been that, as Waltke pounds out his method of Biblically and theologically ciphering the will of God, he keeps undermining himself. And I don’t mean that he makes arguments I don’t like to support positions I don’t care for. I mean that, in the process of making a point with which I expect to agree, he makes frequent use of non sequitur and choppy reasoning. So by the time he gets to the finale of a point where I expected to agree with him 100%, he’s so bungled it that I end up suspicious of myself for intending to agree with him. It’s made it really difficult to finish the book. But finish I did, all the while dreaming of writing my own book, which says all the things he said, only… better, and in the right order.

Then I turn to the last chapter, an afterward, and everything changes. Continue reading “Big Frothy Mess”

Quality Tech Writing

I’ve been thinking off and on about moving our site from WordPress to Drupal, which has some more advanced capabilities and would allow me to integrate a few more things on the site. I discovered this morning that, among its other features, Drupal possesses an incredible tech writer. Observe:

Drupal is a Content Management Framework. This is somewhat different from a Content Management System (or CMS) in that it is by nature geared more towards configurability and customization. Picture a range of measurement where the one end of the scale is labeled “specific” and the other end “abstract”. On the “specific” end of the spectrum, you would have something whose form is very specialized because it’s meant for a specific purpose – like, say, a hammer. On the other end of the spectrum, you would have something much more abstracted, that is available to be configured any way you like, for a variety of purposes – like some wood and a chunk of steel. You could make a hammer, or any number of other things with the wood and steel.

Of course, while chunks of wood and steel are more “configurable” than a hammer, they aren’t terribly useful because few people have the specialized knowledge to work with such raw materials. Drupal’s purpose is to sit in the sweet spot between the two ends of the scale, and create a sort of “builder’s kit” made up of pre-designed components that can be used as-is or be extensively reconfigured to suit your needs.

It keeps going on, building metaphor on metaphor like a John Donne love poem. Who knew programmers had such literary talent?

Babies in the Workforce

I was reading an interesting article via my email on the increase in parents bringing thier children to work with them. I think I disagree with the author and agree with several of the commentators that I would bring David to work given the opportunity. I would much rather have him with me than in a daycare. It would go a long way to help my peace of mind and would definitely make nursing easier. However, I could see how it could be difficult, especially for a first time mom, to bring an infant in to work with her. I would recommend that the mom still take her six weeks maternity leave before trying to get back in the swing of things. That way her body can heal and she and the baby can get into a rhythm together before try tackling addition to her routine.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the Babies at Work website yet, but I will be. And if I feel so inclined, you might see another post later.

I’ve found a solution

For a long time now, I’ve disparaged families who are so negligent as to “use the TV as a babysitter.” I had my reasons:

* TV are stuupid. Television is designed to pitch to the widest possible audience. In part, this is usually accomplished by also pitching to the lowest common denominator. This means that most television, even movies is noticeably lacking in any kind of content which might require an attention span. But people only mature and become capable of working with more complex information by being regularly exposed to stuff that is beyond what they’re actually used to. You don’t improve in anything unless you have to struggle a bit. Since TV constantly pitches low, a regular diet of television makes you dumb.

* TV are annoying. Young children are geared toward repetition and memorization. Which means that, even if you find a way to expose your kids only to “smart TV,” they’re going to want to be watching it a great deal more than an adult is quite prepared to tolerate. I don’t care how much better than the standard fare Thomas the Tank Engine is. It’s not good enough for me to have to memorize it. And I don’t know that I want my kids memorizing it either. OK. Maybe Veggie Tales songs. But I have limits.

Unfortunately, ideals are all wonderful until you encounter real life, in which a child requires a great deal of stimulation. Continue reading “I’ve found a solution”

Almost Perfect

My mom submitted An Ideal Husband for the category of perfect movies with no flaws. One day I may see. I still can’t get myself to watch it, what with the “lying to the spouse” thing. Apparently, except for this basic flaw, the movie is perfect.

More recently, Valerie and I have been getting around to watching a stack of movies that were given to us, but didn’t suit our mood when we received them. So I have a short review for you today of a movie out of season: The Holiday.

I put The Holiday in the category of “almost perfect,” that is, it was a film of impeccable taste and style, with absolutely flawless delivery and nary a misstep – except for one glaring detail which brought up the question of whether we ought to have the movie in the house at all. Continue reading “Almost Perfect”

democracy fails because it does what voters want.

Greg Mankiw points us toward a new book now available on amazon.com: The Myth of the Rational Voter. There is also an excerpt available at the Princeton University Press.

The book is a critique of democracy on the basis that people are fallen and sinful. Of course, being written by economists for a secular audience, it doesn’t quite put it in those terms, but it makes essentially the same point:

Across-the-board irrationality is not a strike against democracy alone, but all human institutions. A critical premise of this book is that irrationality, like ignorance, is selective. We habitually tune out unwanted information on subjects we don’t care about. In the same vein, I claim that we turn off our rational faculties on subjects where we don’t care about the truth. Economists have long argued that voter ignorance is a predictable response to the fact that one vote doesn’t matter. Why study the issues if you can’t change the outcome? I generalize this insight: Why control your knee-jerk emotional and ideological reactions if you can’t change the outcome?

Of course, being a book by economists written for a secular audience, they go on to look into ways of forming a government that can compensate for fallen human nature. After all, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” I think this is consistent with a Christian understanding of government, regardless of the form it takes. One of those purposes is to at least put a cap on human evil until such time as the Governor comes who can eliminate all sinfulness.

I’m afraid I haven’t time to read the book myself, but it looks a very worthwhile read. I’d love to hear from anybody else who gets a chance to look at it.