Time for a quick review of the expanded edition of Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft:
I mean that in the champagne sense, because this superb apologetics book sparkles so brightly and goes down so fast that you don't realize how heavy the argumentation actually is.
To set the stage for my glowing recommendation, you need to know that Between Heaven and Hell is written as a three-way conversation--a Socratic dialog, if you will--between J.F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis. The fictional conversation is set on November 22, 1963, the historical date on which all three men died.
So a few hours after Kennedy, Huxley and Lewis pass away, they meet up in an unspecified location "somewhere between heaven and hell," and, at Lewis' bequest, begin a civil debate to discover the true nature of life. Kennedy represents materialism, Huxley Eastern religion, and Lewis the orthodox Christian faith. The dialog that Peter Kreeft creates is remarkable for its fluidity, its characterization, and its seamless incorporation of weighty theological and philosophical questions. Great ending as well.
In a word (other than "bubbly"), this book is brilliant. I like everything I've read by Peter Kreeft, and this is one of his masterpieces. A main advantage of the "expanded edition" was listening to Kreeft reflect on the book's history since its initial publication in 1982. One remarkable fact: Several people who knew C.S. Lewis personally have remarked to Kreeft that the demeanor of his faux Lewis fits the real man perfectly.
*** Between Heaven and Hell gets 3 of 3 stars--Don't miss it--and I have a hard time seeing how it could fail to cause enthusiasm in both seasoned and amateur apologists and lovers of C.S. Lewis everywhere. You better believe it's on the Master Book List.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Time for a quick review of the expanded edition of Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft:
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Have you played with Wordle yet? Over time, this word-cloud-generating service could rise to the dignity of a verb form. ("So yesterday I Wordled it...") At this point, it's just plain fun.
I put Wordle's abilities to the test with the Introduction to G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. And aside from creating a cool graphic, Wordle does indeed reveal the true colors of Chesterton's book. Notice words like "discover, romance, joke, fool, yacht" and "funny." You'll immediately get the right idea: This is not your average theology book. Which is why it's an inimitable classic that you should already have read twice...
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Aidan knows how to trigger useful surges of paternal affection. Strategy 1 involves grabbing my knees, and saying, "I'm with my DADDY!" At that point I get all teary-eyed and grab him so I can ruffle his hair and tell him that I love him and will always be there for him, even when turns 16 and starts growing facial hair and listening to his crazy rap music.
So I'm holding Aidan while drinking an Orange Julius with Lindsay and Sarah, my younger sister, when Aidan takes a sudden swipe at my glass and nearly knocks it out of my hand. My two front teeth avoid the collision only by jumping out of the way at the last second. Huh? So I ask the obvious question:
Me: Hey, why did you do that?
Aidan, without hesitation: SIN.
Not exactly what I was looking for. "Because I wanted to chip your front teeth," would have been more in line with what I was after. Or, "I wanted some more of that Orange Julius and thought I might slurp some out of the air as the glass flew out of your hand." Conclude what you want to, this does go to show one thing:
Aidan has his basic theology down cold. He could be teaching anthropology in some Christian schools...
Some of you remember the uproar Lindsay caused when she spit out a critical review of Third, Portishead's new album, calling it "bad and trippy, weird and annoying."
Well, in the days since, Portishead has been getting extended play time on the stereo and my ipod earbuds--and I'm here to tell you that Lindsay's assessment was a little on the tough side.
Third is a demanding album, no question. The stalled-out beats and filtered vocals give the songs a dark, enigmatic flavor. However, in my experience, this initial opacity also makes the record an immersive listening experience. There are a handful of albums that I've felt compelled to play over and over again, as if there are musical mysteries to be unraveled. Portishead's Third is right up there with Funeral by Arcade Fire and Radiohead's In Rainbows.
Upshot: If you're willing to invest the time, Portishead's latest foray into vocal-anchored electronica is a fascinating trip (hop). Highly recommended.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Some people say that the months before the baby starts talking are the least interesting. Limited mobility, limited communication, etc., but let me just point out that the smaller the baby is, the higher you can throw him in the air.
Asher's highest recorded throw measures in at 11' 8". On that occasion he threw down a 360 dunk. With a tennis ball--but still, it was impressive.
We have just determined that my seminary days are over and I'm now a genuine graduate. Hallelujah.
For the last month I've been literally slaving away in my final class, a "preaching lab"--which, yes, is probably the most unusual "lab" you could ever hope to encounter. I presented a series of four messages which were graded on a very involved rubric that included stuff like cross references, theological terminology, historical backgrounds, appropriate gestures, voice inflection...you get the idea.
I gave my fourth message yesterday, and as of TWO MINUTES AGO, Lindsay and I examined the syllabus and determined that there's absolutely nothing to gain from putting together an optional fifth message. So voila, my accumulated grades have spoken, and I'm now a real graduate. HA! How do you like them apples, School? Told you I'd get the best of you in the end!!
To borrow and completely mis-apply some of C.S. Lewis' language, "The term is over: the holidays have begun." True, in this case, the holidays will involve copywriting, lots and lots of sweat expended in church planting, moving, and possibly a job search--but Man, it's good to be out of school.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Occasionally a blogger will feel badly enough about his inability to write a substantial post that he'll write a guilty note and post that instead. This is one of those times.
My "Preaching Lab," the final class for my Master of Divinity degree, has been consuming my time like Michael Moore eating french fries. It's kind of like completing a lengthy research paper every week and then presenting in such a way that all your footnotes are incorporated audibly.
Oh yeah, and I'm also trying to develop a marketing plan for my freelance copywriting business.
Fortunately, that class is just about over. Coming up are some posts that will contain more than two or three sentences, including a couple book reviews (one by Aidan).
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I took this after the Celebration at the Station, while we were stranded on the top level of a parking garage for an hour. That implies that I spent the entire hour getting this photo right--so let me assure you that it took mere seconds to take this shot. Mere seconds. That's how good I am.
It left an entire 59 minutes and 53 seconds to fume at the parking attendants, laugh at angry, unstable Johnson Countians, watch cars drive away below, etc.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
No doubt you know that Coldplay's new album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is out, and critics are already speaking up (Pitchfork, Patrol).
But did you know that you can download earlier albums, X & Y and A Rush of Blood to the Head (probably my favorite Coldplay album) for $2?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Halftime. Celtics are blowing out the Lakers by 23, and I'm yelling at the television and fist pumping, happy that Aidan and Asher are pretty good sleepers in the pre-midnight hours. Kevin Garnett is finally showing up, the Celtics are firing on all cylinders, and Paul Pierce is making me proud--carving up the Lakers' D and getting his teammates all kinds of open looks.
Rock Chalk Celtics.
You can download 4 MP3 tracks by one of my favorite bands, Spoon, over at Daytrotter. One is an unreleased cover of Paul Simon's "Peace Like a River." The other three tracks come from Soft Effects, Kill the Moonlight, and 2007's spectacular Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
HT: Kevin Cawley
Remember last year, when the Big 12 split the Hardwood Challenge with the Pac 10 despite getting no respect as a conference nationally? Well, it could happen again this year. And again, watch out for marquee match-ups, with the Kansas Jayhawks taking on Arizona and the Texas Longhorns taking on UCLA. Here's the schedule for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series:
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Oklahoma State at Washington
UCLA at Texas
USC at Oklahoma
Friday, December 5, 2008
Arizona at Texas A&M
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Baylor at Washington State
Oregon State at Iowa State
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Kansas State at Oregon
Nebraska at Arizona State
California at Missouri
Outside the four-day series window
Colorado at Stanford (Sat., Nov. 29, 2008)
Kansas at Arizona (Tue., Dec. 23, 2008)
Texas Tech at Stanford (Sun., Dec. 28, 2008)
HT: College Hoops Blog
Saturday, June 14, 2008
So you know the Boston Celtics have the L.A. Lakers down 3 games to 1, right? And that no NBA team has ever come back to win the title after being down 3 to 1? Did you know that the Celtics set a new record for the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history? And that Paul Pierce arguably did the best job defending Kobe Bryant that anyone ever has? That the Celtics have a chance to end the series on Fathers' Day?
Didn't think you knew.
Watch the video. I love Pierce's post-game interview. Like Kobe, he's a flat-out competitor. But unlike Kobe, he manages to preserve the human touch while killing teams... On guarding Kobe: "I just wanted to make it hard for him."
Friday, June 13, 2008
Some of you are probably already aware of Amazon's new weekly promo. Every Friday, 5 full-length MP3 albums go on sale for $5.
Great deal, in my book. Last week I grabbed R.E.M.'s new album, Accelerate. Anyway, scan the current deals, but don't drag your feet. If I had to nominate this week's can't-miss $5 album, I'd give the nod to Neon Bible (2007) by the Arcade Fire. But KT Tunstall is a solid pick too.
Let's be honest. Older brothers can be a little
rough prone to wrestling and body-slamming. And Asher has had enough.
I've been noticing that he disappears in the living room for long periods of time (by "living room" I mean the general area of our loft where the futons are) and today I walked in on what is apparently Asher's new workout regimen.
When I asked how long he's been doing this, he told me he'd been working out secretly for about a month, usually during Aidan's nap time. When I asked how long he would keep it up, he told me--after finishing his set of push-ups--that he'd keep at until he could squash Aidan like a bug.
This kid is intense. I don't think my back could handle his futon-push-ups. To be real candid, I don't intend to find out. But now that I think about it... Asher's arms and torso are starting to look HUGE.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Aidan thinks "the magic word" is really magic. Like every other two-year-old, he sees stuff he absolutely must have that second whenever he goes out in public. Usually, these objects which awaken the latent materialism in his little heart are in the possession of someone else. I mean, of course: Why else do we see three-foot-tall humans engaged in fisticuffs in the woodchips?
So what does Aidan do? Asks permission to unleash the magic, of course. Asks to detonate the word to which there can be no answer:
"Daddy, say 'Please' to kids with ball?"
Because he knows that, if I will allow him to say the P-word, those kids playing with the ball will suddenly become former owners.
So far, I haven't let him approach strangers to ask for their balls, lollipops, Sprite, what have you. I'm starting to wonder, though, if maybe I should. Just once or twice. To let Aidan learn that the magic "Please" is not really the non-negotiable road to dominion that he thinks it is.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I realize I may be one of the three people in the Midwest who cares about the NBA finals. But old loyalties die hard. Seeing Kansas Jayhawk star Paul Pierce kill the Lakers and make Kobe Bryant look like a petulant child is surprisingly good for my heart. Dime notes:
Bryant struggled with his shot in Boston. He scored 54 points in the two games, but he had 49 field-goal attempts. By comparison, Paul Pierce had 50 points while attempting only 26 shots.Check the Paul Pierce action from game two.
In other news, the KC Star reports that Mario Chalmers' NBA draft stock is rising and he's all but gone. No real surprise there, but it means that Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich will have to be The Men for the Kansas Jayhawks this fall. Actually, with the recruiting class KU has coming in, I'm not too worried. Here's hoping that Chalmers gets drafted midway through the first round and doesn't slip.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Here were the stipulations under which I signed up with Twitter.
1. Change the visual background so that people won't mistake my homepage for a Welcome the Newborn Baby site. The little bird and powder blue motif can create that effect...
2. Post whenever someone chooses to "follow" me, thereby reminding me that I have a Twitter account.
So I guess you could say that the stars have not yet aligned themselves in such a way that I can whole-heartedly adopt the Twitter lifestyle. Clearly, though, some people adore Twitter. Absolutely love knowing what various people are doing and thinking at random hours throughout the day. Am I missing something?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Saturday, June 07, 2008
In case you're thinking about watching game 2 on Sunday, check out this slice of classic NBA history. Even before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Celtics and Lakers were bitter rivals. Apparently no two NBA teams have a more interwoven and storied past:
In our modern sports lexicon, we carelessly bandy about the word “Dynasty”. If 3 in a row or four in a decade is considered a dynasty, then those early Celtics were an uber-dynasty...
Friday, June 06, 2008
I posted this true story on arieljvan.com, and apparently I'm not the only one who found it humorous, since I've been forced to retell it several times. You be the judge. Alternatively, you can wait until you see me slurping coffee in a cafe somewhere, and say, "Hey, tell me that story about you and Bill Self."
Tell me you saw this last night. Game one of the NBA finals, which I'm eagerly soaking in because one of my all-time favorites, Paul Pierce, is finally going to get his championship ring.
As the first half ended, former Jayhawk stud and six-time NBA All Star was sitting on the bench with 3 points and 3 fouls. Then in the third quarter he went off on the L.A. Lakers--injured his knee in a smash-up that had the Celtic Nation holding its breath--and returned from the locker room to stir fans to euphoria and seal the Boston victory.
Check this video, especially the third play in, where Paul Pierce drops in a three after taking a hard foul. Incredible. This brings me back to 1996-1997 when Pierce was killing opponents in the Big 12. I'm out like Kobe Bryant in game 1...
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Aidan has devoted considerable time and effort to developing his urban 2 year old chic, but not without paying a steep price. He constantly gets tired and is forced to take naps in the middle of the day.
I'd say the reason is pretty obvious: All the time he spends pedaling furiously on the stationary bike of cool.
Asher was crawling along at high speed as usual, when this beam of sunlight materialized and magically kicked his velocity up to overdrive, like in a Disney movie.
As you can see from the second photo, neither of us were prepared for the raw acceleration of warp crawl. Fortunately, both Asher and the camera emerged unharmed. However, we'll be keeping an eye out for rogue sunbeams from now on.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I turned down a first invitation to read Christian George's Sex, Sushi and Salvation, before noticing this blurb on the back:
This exotic potpourri of life slices vividly projects the truth that our Redeemer God alone can fulfill the desires for intimacy, community, and eternity that he has implanted in us. A top-class read... - J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God
So the second time around, I thought, How can you turn down a thumbs-up from J.I. Packer? Seriously, I don't care if this book does have a garishly painted, chopstick-wielding femme fatale's hand on the cover. I don't care that it appears to be another Donald-Miller-style search for God via global travel/stylish personal manifesto. I don't even care that Packer said "exotic potpourri" in his endorsement, which would normally disqualify this book as fit for male consumption.
Darn it, I'm going to give it a shot! So far, Sex Sushi & Salvation has been better than expected, and may get a review here. We'll see...