There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for conventional wisdom

David Foster Wallace: words of life from a man dead too soon

Several of you asked for the article in full to which I referred this morning from David Foster Wallace.

Here you are, from the Wall Street Journal of Sept 19 of this year.

A member of our church (and our neighbor here in the Cliff!) passed the article  along to me.  In addition to Wallace’s winsome prose, his insight into the human condition is remarkable.  He seemed to understand so much, and yet seemed to disallow the possibility that the very means by which we are liberated from the idolatries to which we are so prone does not exist in us naturally.

is it possible to transact love and commitment without dating as we know it?

Thanks to all who participated in our panel discussion on Marriage last Sunday. Your questions were honest and insightful, as were the answers. As promised, tomorrow we’ll begin posting some of the questions here we didn’t have time for Sunday, and invite those on the panel to contribute short or long responses.

Today, though, a thought related to dating. Sunday afternoon brought us in touch with one of Ken Burns’ American Stories. Here’s the link of the relevant segment:

PBS – THE WEST – P.S. I Like You Very Much

In this segment, Burns lets Ethel Waxman and George Schlichting tell of their courtship by way of their letters to one another over several years. Read the rest of this entry »

that whole “multiple-bottom-line” thing….

to any of you in the business-world, what if your bottom-line ended up looking more like the bottom-line in this business?

this ain’t no tract-printing operation.

Video Illustration: China: Kingdom Business – Bluefish TV

means test

The LORD has strident words for Israel (the Northern Kingdom) through Hosea, but, at least in 1:7, the words for Judah (the Southern Kingdom) were conciliatory: mercy would still come Judah’s way in the way of deliverance from external forces. But the promise of deliverance would be, the LORD says, through unconventional means. Not by military prowess would Judah escape the imperialistic aspirations of Assyria.

It may be trying too hard to make a principle of a slight phrase, but I think there’s something to learning to trust God through unconventional means of accomplishing His purposes. Read the rest of this entry »

counsel of a different sort

This has been making the rounds in recent weeks. Perhaps you’ve seen it. It’s a MadTV skit featuring the side-splitting dead-pan, Bob Newhart, as a counselor. In light of our previous series on biblical change and counsel, it’s an opportunity to laugh but also to consider a feature of conventional wisdom when it comes to change–albeit in a satirical, straw-man-argument fashion.

Justin Taylor even ran this little skit by none other than David Powlison, a colleague of Paul Tripp’s (the author of Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand). Here’s Powlison’s musings on what’s portrayed.

question from the hip

are we a thankful generation? what evidence would you provide to substantiate your answer?

do you really have to be taught to hate?

Whenever you read a story or hear about an individual who is unabashedly prejudiced or racist, it’s only a matter of minutes before you hear the “voice of reason” explaining that this kind of hatred is yet more evidence that, as the song in South Pacific sings, “you have to be taught to hate.”

"You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
you've got to be taught from year to year,
it's got to be drummed in your dear little ear---
you've got to be carefully taught!. . . ."

This afternoon I read of a two Olsen-like set of twins who’ve made it onto the national scene with their, I suppose, “hip” style of exalting such infamously racist figures as Hitler and his cadre. And of course, as you have come to expect, their unambiguously racist banter has immediately been labeled as one more instance of the inculcation of hate–hate that would never have emerged were it not “taught” them.

I would not deny that these twin tweeners have been bestowed a whole agenda that will, for a season, garner them a spike of blushing attention. Had they never been introduced to Hitler, to an ideology espousing the alleged advantages of a “pure” race, to the base lies that a diverse people is a doomed people, I’m reluctant to say they (the most ignorant pre-teens or the most learned baby-boomers) would’ve conjured such ideas themselves–much less turn those ideas into an agenda. But do you think hate–that mysterious feeling that is ironically “delicious” (nod to Frederica Mathewes-Greene) to those who indulge in it– is really some force that would not penetrate the human soul unless it were put in us by something external to us? The drive to hate, the urge to think oneself superior, the proclivity to shift blame to the “other” to such a degree that the blame manifests in contempt–sure, personalities, experiences or other external things may, as it were, add fuel to the fire, but is that fire not somehow kindled by something within?

I’m a pastor. That disqualifies my perspective in many eyes because I come to the table with the presupposition that there is something fundamentally flawed within us–that sin, often manifested in hatred, comes all too naturally for us. But based on the evidence of history, or on your own experiences, is it too simple to conclude that “you have to be taught to hate?” The objects of hatred, I concede, require something pointing us to them, but the propensity to see them as worthy of hatred–who can argue with Solzhenitsyn when he says, every human heart is shot through with wickedness?