Thursday, August 30, 2012

Analyzing Eastwood

I've been a fan of many Clint Eastwood movies over the years and it was enjoyable to watch him tonight at the Republican National Convention. He missed out on a career in stand-up comedy.

As I've written before, I'm also a fan of Mars Hill Audio, a bimonthly audio magazine (that is available currently in CD or MP3) that focuses on matters of faith and culture.

I was pleased that the most recent edition of Mars Hill Audio featured an interview with Sara Anson Vaux, whose most recent book is called The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood.

Here's the blurb from the Mars Hill Audio website:

"The next segment features Sara Anson Vaux on the ethical concerns of Clint Eastwood. Vaux describes the qualities of Eastwood's directing that she appreciates and discusses some of the themes that are prevalent in Eastwood's films: the capacity of humans for slaughtering others, betrayal, beauty, bonds of friendship, the needs of community, and the relationship between members of different generations. In the process, Vaux draws on a number of Eastwood films, including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Mystic River, Unforgiven, Changeling, and Invictus."

Another great interview from Mars Hill Audio, although she didn't cover my favorite Eastwood quote that I used to have memorized and speak in a similar gravely voice:

I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

I felt lucky to hear the interview with Ms. Vaux (sorry couldn't stop the marketing pitch).

Here's a link to order the CD:



In Christian theology, the doctrine of justification means being declared righteous by God because of the work of Christ.

As Billy Graham famously explained, because of the work of Christ, God views Christians “just as if” we had never sinned.

In addition, justification also means that God views Christians as if they had lived a perfectly righteous life because Christians are covered by Christ's righteousness.

Pastor Alistair Begg has a helpful sermon in two parts on justification called "After Darkness, Light" that can be found here…

I pray that you would find this resource helpful in learning more about being justified by God’s grace.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fare Forward

Found a new quarterly journal that looks promising. It is called Fare Forward: A Christian Review of Ideas. The name comes from T.S. Elliot's Four Quarets and the site is written and edited by several "emerging adults" (as they describe themsleves) who are "young people who have graduated from college and begun to enter the work force but who are still facing a period of transition and uncertainty."

Their website can be found here:

Their blog here:


Becoming a Nation

This past weekend I finished reading an interesting and well-written book called "Destiny of the Republic: A tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President."

The book was written by Candice Millard, the author of a wonderful book called "River of Doubt" - an incredible account of Theodore Roosevelt's journey through an unmapped river in Brazil - and a book that is one of my favorites.

In "Destiny of the Republic" (which was published in 2011), Millard describes the life and tragic events surrounding the brief presidency and assassination of James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States.

It is mostly a sad and depressing tale - of mental illness (by Garfield's attacker) and prideful physicians (Garfield's attending physicians refused to believe in sterilization of medical equipment or that their hands could spread germs).

In reading the book last week, I was struck by a few thoughts:

One thought (that was not new to me last week -- but one that has been a challenge for me during my adult life) is how attributing events to "Providence" or "God" can be a tricky thing.

Garfield, I learned from the book, had left home at the age of sixteen to work on the Ohio and Erie Canal. One night he fell into the canal and was saved from drowning by grabbing a rope that should have fallen into the water when he grabbed it. At that moment he felt like his life was worth living and headed for home. He eventually went to and excelled at college, became a college professor, then president of his college, then a General in the Civil War, then an Ohio representative to the U.S. Congress.

Sadly, Garfield's assassin also felt that he was led by God, that he was providentially saved from a disaster (also on the water) and in his warped thinking, believed that it was God's will that he kill Garfield.

A second point that was interesting to observe was that Millard makes a point about Garfield's death that Jay Winik made about Lincoln's death (that had occurred 16 years before). Winik, in his book "April, 1865" (which I blogged about a few weeks ago) explained that in the fractious land, Lincoln's death helped make the United States become a nation.  Millard sees Garfield's death as accomplishing a similar purpose.

She explains,

"Garfield's long illness and painful death brought the country together in a way that, even the day before the assassination attempt, had seemed to most Americans impossible. 'Garfield does not belong to the north alone,' read a letter that was written by a southerner to Lucretia (Garfield) soon after the shooting, and printed in papers across the country. 'From this common vigil and prayer and sympathy in the travail of this hour there shall be a new birth of the Nation.' That prediction was realized the day Garfield's death was announced, when his countrymen mourned not as northerners or southerners, but as Americans. 'This morning from the depth of their grief-stricken hearts all Americans can and will thank God that there is no North, no South, no East, no West,' a minister said from his pulpit. 'Bound together in one common sorrow, binding in its vastness, we are one and indissoluble.' (pg. 288) 


Thursday, August 9, 2012

When God withdraws the sense of His presence

Do you feel at times that God has withdrawn the sense of His presence?

Here's a good article and interview today from The Gospel Coalition with Ryan Kelly about how it feels when God withdraws the sense of His presence.

Rev. Kelly notes that the Psalms deals with this topic in great detail as do a number of books by the Puritans.

A few quotes from Rev. Kelly:

-there is "an ebb and a flow to our sense of His presence. And that is why we see Paul praying for more grace and more peace and more comfort. It implies that there are times when you don't experience His grace and peace and comfort like you had at other times. And the pastoral take-away is: that's okay. Be patient, wait on the Lord...wait on the Lord while you work, wait on the Lord while you ask yourself hard questions."

-"It is a fair thing to wait on the Lord and trust that He is good even when you cannot trace His hand."

My prayer for you (and me) is that we would grow in God's grace and peace and comfort in times when we can sense His presence and times when we cannot.


Monday, August 6, 2012

This Year and American History

The year is 2012 and as a sometime student of American History it is interesting to note the anniversaries that this year brings with the:
-200th anniversary of the War of 1812
-150th anniversary of the Civil War
-50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
-40th anniversary of the Vietnam War
-10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan

The Atlantic magazine had a recent article on the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, which can be found here.

On the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, the New York Times has a blog that chronicles the events of 150 years ago (which can be found here). 

There was much that was happening in 1862.  In the western theater, the Battles of Shiloh and Perryville occurred, as did the capture of New Orleans by Union forces.

In the East in 1862, the Battle of Antietam was fought in September. The Union victory was followed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The year ended badly for the Union, however, with the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Lessons in the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis are chronicled in the recent July/August edition of Foreign Affairs magazine here. The author notes that "The U.S. air strike and invasion that were scheduled for the third week of the confrontation would likely have triggered a nuclear response against American ships and troops, and perhaps even Miami. The resulting war might have led to the deaths of 100 million Americans and over 100 million Russians."

Reflecting on these events (and near events) I'm amazed at the tremendous sacrifices that so many Americans have made to defend our freedom.
I'm also reminded of the prayers for peace in the Book of Common Prayer:

"Give peace, O Lord in all the world; for only in you can we live in safety."