Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
Monday, January 19, 2009
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him" (2 Cor. 2.14).
The twenty-ninth duly arrived, and what a day it was! Rome had not seen such a spectacle since the days of Sulla. As I waited by the Triumphal Gate it seemed that everyone had turned out to line the route. First to pass through the gate from the Field of Mars was the entire body of the Senate, including Cicero, walking on foot, led by the consuls and the other magistrates. Then the trumpeters, sounding the fanfares. Then the carriages and litters laden with the spoils of the Spanish war – gold and silver, coin and bullion, weapons, statues, pictures, vases, furniture, precious stones, and tapestries – and wooded models of the cities Pompey had conquered and sacked, and placards with their names, and the names of all the famous men he had killed in battle.
Then the massive, plodding white bulls, destined for sacrifice, with gilded horns hung with ribbons and floral garlands, driven by the slaughtering priests. Then trudging elephants – the heraldic symbol of the Metelli – and lumbering oxcarts bearing cages containing the wild beasts of the Spanish mountains, roaring and tearing at their bars in rage. Then the arms and insignia of the beaten rebels, and then the prisoners themselves, the defeated followers of Sertorius and Perperna, shuffling in chains. Then the crowns and tributes of the allies, borne by the ambassadors of a score of nations. Then the twelve lictors of the imperator, their rods and axes wreathed in laurel.
And now at last, to a tumult of applause from the vast crowd, the four white horses of the imperator’s chariot came trotting through the gate, and there was Pompey himself, in the barrel-shaped, gem-encrusted chariot of the triumphator. He wore a gold-embroidered robe with a flowered tunic. In his right hand he held a laurel bough and in his left a scepter. There was a wreath of Delphic laurel on his head, and his handsome face and muscled body had been painted with red lead, for on this day he truly was the embodiment of Jupiter. Standing beside him was his eight-year-old son, the golden-curled Gnaeus, and behind him a public slave to whisper in his ear that he was only human and all this would pass.
Behind the chariot, riding on a black warhorse, came old Metellus Pius, his leg tightly bandaged, evidence of a wound incurred in battle. Next to him was Scipio, his adopted son – a handsome young fellow of twenty-four: no wonder, I thought, that Lepida preferred him to Cato – and then the legionary commanders, including Aulus Gabinius, followed by all the knights and cavalry, armor glinting in the pale December sun. And finally the legions of Pompey’s infantry, in full marching order, thousands upon thousands of sunburnt veterans, the crash of their tramping boots seeming to shake the very earth, roaring at the top of their voices “Io Triumphe!” and changing hymns to the gods and singing filthy songs about their commander in chief, as they were traditionally permitted to do in this, the hour of his glory.
It took half the morning for them all to pass, the procession winding through the streets toward the Forum, where, according to tradition, as Pompey ascended the steps of the Capitol to sacrifice before the Temple of Jupiter, his most eminent prisoners were lowered into the depths of the Carcer and garroted – for what could be more fitting than that the day which ended the military authority of the conqueror should also end the lives of the conquered?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
NEW AND UNIQUE CHURCH PLANTING BOOK -- [The Book in Question] was recently published by [Some Publisher]. Author [John Doe], Director of the Church Planting Center at [Some Seminary], challenges missionaries across the globe to consider Barnabas as a model for healthy church planting teams. The Factors include: Walks with the Lord; Maintains an Outstanding Character; Serves the Local Church; Remains Faithful to the Call; Shares the Gospel Regularly; Raises Up Leaders; Encourages with Speech and Actions; Responds Appropriately to Conflict. A guide is also provided to assist team leaders in evaluating potential team members. This work is available through Amazon.
Better to read Kierkegaard. Agree with him or not, at least he had something to say.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Now that I've reviewed my favorite books of 2008 (here and here), I guess the next thing to do is preview my plans for 2009.
In the coming year, I want to be intentional about balancing out the kinds of books I read. These are the "food groups" I want to include in my literary diet:
- Literature. Fiction by serious writers, such as Camus, Solzhenitsyn, Flannery O'Connor, and the like.
- New Non-Fiction. Defined more or less as something published in my lifetime by authors who are still alive. Can be either "Christian" or "secular."
- Old Non-Fiction. Also known as non-fiction that isn't new. This category is important to me, because of a thought C.S. Lewis brought out in one of his essays about why we should read "old" books: "Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them."
- C.S. Lewis and Friends. I want to keep working through the Lewis canon and get to some books by his brother Warnie, his wife Joy, and his friend Charles Williams.
- John Wesley. I bought his complete works in 14 volumes several years ago but am only about 10% of the way through it.
- Novels. Defined, I suppose, as modern fiction written for a mass audience. This category isn't necessarily a priority, but it does make long airplane flights pass more quickly.
My idea is to rotate through the first 5 categories until the year is over, sprinking in the novels when appropriate. Between each book I'll catch up on the periodicals I receive. I'll also read the Bible most days, but I won't read through the Bible this year (I do that in even-numbered years).
So there you have it. I'm now accountable.
After 2009, I want to start into Calvin and Luther, but there's plenty of time yet to figure that out.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
David posted his favorite books for 2008, so I guess I may as well do the same.
First, here are all the books I read last year, listed alphabetically by author. This doesn't include newspapers, magazines, or restroom graffiti:
- Anonymous - The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way
- Bauby, Jean-Dominique - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God
- Bruce, A.B. - The Training of the Twelve
- Coleman, Robert - Des Meisters Plan der Evangelisation
- Coleman, Robert - The Master Plan of Evangelism (3rd? 4th? reading)
- Coupland, Douglas - All Families are Psychotic
- Dorsett, Lyle - A Love Observed: Joy Davidman's Life & Marriage to C.S. Lewis
- D'Souza, Tony - Whiteman
- Gaines, James - Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment
- Gresham, Douglas - Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
- Harris, Robert - Enigma
- Harris, Robert - Fatherland
- Henry, Marguerite - White Stallion of Lipizza
- Hopko, Thomas - Christian Faith And Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections
- Iweala, Uzodinma - Beasts of No Nation
- Kolakowski, Leszek - Metaphysical Horror
- Neighbour, Randall - A Pocket Guide to Coaching Small Groups
- Lewis, C.S. - A Grief Observed (2nd reading)
- Lewis, C.S. - The Problem of Pain
- Long, Jimmy - Emerging Hope: A Strategy for Reaching Postmodern Generations
- Machiavelli, Niccolo - The Prince
- Nouwen, Henri - Beloved
- Nouwen, Henri - Can You Drink the Cup?
- Nouwen, Henri - In the Name of Jesus
- Pollan, Michael - In Defense of Food
- Reich, Christopher - Rules of Deception
- Rice, Anne - Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt
- Rice, Anne - Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
- Richards, Jay (ed.) - Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition
- Robinson, Marilynne - Gilead
- Salinger, J.D. - Franny and Zooey
- Sayer, George - Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis
- Scazzero, Peter - Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
- Skinner, Betty Lee - With Integrity of Heart and Skillful Hand
- Tarnas, Richard - The Passion of the Western Mind (2nd reading)
- Thigpen, Paul (ed.) - My Daily Catholic Bible: Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 20-Minute Daily Readings
9,441 pages. Seems like I ought to be a lot smarter, wiser, and more Godly than I am after all that. What's that verse about always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth?
In any case, here are my five favorites. I won't call them "best," because a book might be "best" for a particular purpose, but still not my favorite. And I won't include the Bible, because it's the obvious best and favorite. Of the 36 that remain, my faves as of this particular moment are:
- #6 Coleman - A classic is a classic is a classic. Profound principles in a compact package.
- #21 Long - Super insights into pomo people and times, and how to minister in this culture.
- #28-29 Rice - Miraculously uncheesy imaginings about the days of Jesus before his ministry.
- #31 Robinson - Transcendently beautiful Pulitzer-prize winning novel of forgiveness and transformation.
- #36 Tarnas - A history of philosophy that reads like a novel and makes sense of the mess.