Month: September 2014

The Early Years of a Heretic

Come back with me to the Warsaw Community Public Library, second level, about a decade ago. Do you see her? The awkward kid with a growing-out wedge cut that looks like a sad, accidental mullet. The one who has never actually been in the nonfiction section except when looking for scrapbooking magazines and Calvin and Hobbes collections (why are those there anyway?).

She’s looking over her shoulder, tracking her mom over in the inspirational fiction section, making sure she isn’t watching. Where is she going? you wonder.

Pictures of me at age 13 are as rare as pictures of Bigfoot. This one will have to serve. It at least approximates my nerdiness. ("Science is magic, guys!")

Pictures of me at age 13 are as rare as pictures of Bigfoot. This one from age 11 will have to serve. It at least approximates my nerdiness. (“Science is magic, guys!”)

And you watch her take some thick books off the shelf in the theology section and run—sneak?—downstairs to check them out. With her own library card, instead of just mooching off her mom’s account like she normally does. And she slides them into her bag with some innocuous historical fiction novel on top.

If you were to follow her home (which you shouldn’t, that would be creepy), you’d see her stuff the books under her bed, read them under the covers with a flashlight, hide them when her twin sister comes in.

What are they? The Case for Christ, The Case for a Creator, The Case for Faith, all by Lee Strobel who apparently needed to make a lot of cases. New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. (all 600 pages of it). The thick commentary from the office with the King James Version and words she pretends like she can understand but actually doesn’t. (more…)

Scenes with the Pharisees: Act Two

Sometimes, you’re just trying to read the Bible, and a bunch of fictional Pharisees demand you turn it into a script. This is the second one I’ve written, though it comes chronologically before the first one. Sorry about that. I didn’t realize this would be a series at the time. Because that would take, you know, organization and such.



Peter, John, and Matthew: Disciples
Levi, Simon, Micah, and Nicodemus: Pharisees
Other Disciples
Man with Withered Hand

(Jesus and his disciples walk across the stage. Peter and a few others are picking bits of grain and eating them.)

Peter: So Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” And I say, “What, Lot’s wife wasn’t enough?” Get it? (He is the only one laughing.)

John: I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Are we almost to the synagogue, Jesus?

Jesus: Almost.

Peter: Good, because I’m starving. Nothing around here to eat but this grain. Not that I’m blaming anyone…John.

John: What, so I forgot lunch this one time. It won’t happen again.

Matthew: Don’t look now, but I believe someone’s following us.

Peter: Leave it to the tax collector to be checking over his shoulder.

Matthew (Sighing delicately): Aren’t those jokes ever going to get old?

Peter: Probably not, no.

Jesus: They don’t happen to be those Pharisees we saw in Capernaum yesterday, do they?

John (Glancing back): Yep. Good guess. You’d think you were omniscient or something.

Jesus: I don’t think I’d need omniscience for that one, John. (He keeps walking.)

John: So…shouldn’t we talk to them? See what they’re up to?

Peter: Yeah, maybe they have some real food. (Burps, then turns.) Hey! We know you’re there! Come on out, already!

(Levi, Micah, and Simon stride forward, Nicodemus follows a bit sheepishly.)

Levi: Look here, Jesus! Why are your disciples working on the Sabbath?

Peter: Wait a minute…we’re walking beside a grain field. You’re walking beside a grain field. If we’re working, aren’t you working too?

Matthew: Perhaps telling bad jokes classifies as work under the Torah.

Peter: Real funny, tax man.

Simon: No, no, no. You plucked that wheat and shook off the grain. Harvesting. Threshing. It’s all perfectly clear. You might as well be dragging a team of donkeys with a plow.

Peter: Yeah, I think there are some donkeys around here somewhere… (Other disciples snicker, Levi sighs heavily and ignores them.)

Levi: Well? What have you to say about this, teacher?

Jesus: Have you not read what David did when he was in danger and hungry? He and his men went into the temple in the days of Abiathar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence that only the priests are allowed to eat.

Simon: Oooookay. So…what does that have to do with this?

Jesus: David broke the ceremonial law…and God let him. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. And the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath. (more…)

What Christians Really Need To Kiss Goodbye

A while ago, a blog post, “Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed,” went viral on Facebook and provoked significant numbers of reactions on either side. Although I don’t understand why. There is no good reason to get worked up over romantic relationships, especially between Christians.

There were some serious battles going on in the comments section.

There were some serious battles going on in the comments section.

It’s so simple, guys. I mean, can you even think of anything more straightforward than relationships between complex and nuanced individuals who are struggling between sin nature and being made in the image of God as they work toward making a life commitment to another person in a culture that has completely distorted their views of love and sexuality?

Me neither. I don’t know what all of the fuss is about.

Particularly since the Bible is expressly clear on exactly what format romantic relationships should take. It’s practically a handbook on the subject, with a detailed list of dos and don’ts so you can know that you’re doing everything exactly right.

Wait, what’s that you say? Some of you are finding “consider others as more important than yourselves” a little vague on the details of dating vs. courting?

Huh. How funny. I guess you have a point. (more…)

It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door

You know that viral thing going around that asks you to list ten books that stayed with you or influenced your life? The one I just recently caved to peer pressure and participated in?

It turns out that most of the books people list were written for children. (This shouldn’t surprise us—to quote Madeleine L’Engle, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”)

You can find the whole list of books and percentages of people who listed them, compiled by Facebook’s slightly-creepy data analysts. But I did want to note that the third most listed book is The Lord of the Rings, and the fourth is The Hobbit.

Which brings me to my announcement. At work, I ran across Jamie’s blog, Books and Beverages (which is lovely and you should probably all read it). But the really exciting part for me was the monthly Inklings. Once a month, Jamie lists a book that will be discussed. Anyone can read the book, go on the blog on the listed day, and answer some of the questions she gives.

That’s it. Read the book. Go on the blog. Answer some questions and respond to other readers if you’d like to. How fun is that?

I mean, come on, she had custom graphics made with Lewis and Tolkien’s faces. What’s not to like?

For the past few months, I’ve meant to join in. Really. Best intentions and all that. But I haven’t yet.

Next month’s discussion, set for October 15th, is on The Hobbit, a book that I’ve also meant to re-read. Really. But I haven’t yet.

This time, I’m doing it, and I’m super excited. So excited that I’d like you to join me. That’s right—you.

Most of us, like Bilbo at the start of the story, think the idea of doing stuff is great. But when it comes down to it, when the wizard is at our door telling us to come on an adventure, we look up, glance nervously at our mother’s doilies, folded neatly in place, and mutter, “Um…no thanks.” (more…)

The Courage to Love

Sometimes, you read a quote that makes you stop dead in your tracks and search for words to express your admiration. (For me, these heartfelt tributes usually come out as, “Whoa.”) Last week, I found one of those quotes. Annie Dillard, who is brilliant basically all the time, wrote an essay in the New York Times that ends with this paragraph:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now…Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

Yep. That one. Right there.

“You open the safe and find ashes.”

The jolting, catch-your-breath paradox of that statement reminded me of another of similar length: “For whoever would save his life will lose it.” Because it’s not just about writing. It’s about how you live. You can hoard more than a perfect line of dialogue. (more…)

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost…But Some Are

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

This line of poetry from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien can be found on basically any gift item you can think of. And it is beautiful and it looks good on coffee mugs and I love it.


But still, it makes me wonder: are we as Christians supposed to be adventurers and wanderers, catching the next train like a hobo in the night, always moving, always waiting for that elusive feeling that we’ve arrived and never quite reaching it?

I think the answer is both yes and no. (more…)