Archives For February 2012

Frogs On a Log

February 29, 2012 — Leave a comment


There were once three frogs sitting on a log. One decided to jump off the log. How many frogs were left? Two? Nope. Three. One made the decision to jump, but he hadn’t actually jumped yet.

This parable is often used to illustrate the gap between making a decision and acting upon that decision. We often take for granted that they are one in the same. We decide to do something and we act. It’s as simple as that. Right? Continue Reading…

People of the White Horse

February 29, 2012 — 2 Comments


In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks explores the formative effects of our unconscious world on our conscious world. His approach is not so much Freudian psychology as it is pop sociology, a la Malcolm Gladwell. At its core, the book reveals that we are products of our habits and routines more than we are products of our reasoned, structured decisions.

In the book, Brooks invents some fictional protagonists and, following Rousseau’s Emile, uses them to live out his propositions. Overall, the convention works, though it is strained at times by Brooks’ somewhat clumsy attempts to weave technical literature and references into the flow of the narrative. I found Brooks to be at his strongest early in the book, weakening as the story played out.  Continue Reading…

The Return of Mystery?

February 18, 2012 — 2 Comments


Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is an enormous book in size–over 800 pages long–and scope–he sketches the rise of secularism. While at times it borders on turgid, the book teases out a framework for understanding how, over 500 years, Western culture gradually shifted from enchantment to disenchantment, from the transcendent to the immanent, from belief or unbelief to belief and unbelief coexisting. 

Taylor pokes holes in the commonly held assumption that the Enlightenment and the rise of the Scientific Age paved the way for the death of religion. The assumption claims that reason and science enabled a stripping away of religious myth and exposed life as it ‘really’ is, void of the supernatural and no longer needing a god or gods to explain mystery. Taylor argues that this subtraction narrative is itself a myth.  Continue Reading…


“There are four qualities that have been the special marks of the Evangelical religion: conversionism, the believe that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and what may be called crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism” (Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, Kindle location 163).

In his attempt to circumscribe some basic features common to evangelicalism, D.W. Bebbington includes ‘biblicism’ as one of the four priorities in his quadrilateral. In recent years, biblicism and its adherents–biblicists–have come under attack. As Peter Leithart writes, “‘Biblicist’ is a fighting word.” Continue Reading…

A Brief Guide to Donuts

February 9, 2012 — 10 Comments

By now, you’ve probably come across Doug Ray’s “Social Media Explained” using a donut. It’s wildly popular due to its simplicity and its accuracy. In some ways, authors William Raeper and Linda Edwards attempt to do the same thing with philosophy and theology in their book A Brief Guide to Ideas. “Each of us has a mixture of ideas in our heads about ourselves and the world. These ideas have to come from somewhere,” they write in the introduction (p. 11).

The book is divided into 16 parts, each part comprised of three chapters, each chapter highlighting one major philosopher, theologian, or concept. It is a wonderful introduction to a panoply of subjects and people. At just under 400 pages, it is tantalizingly brief, often leaving the reader jotting down names and ideas for further study. Instead of highlighting a person or idea that they cover in the book, I will attempt to apply Doug’s whiteboard elegance to philosophers:



On Becoming “Daddy”

February 7, 2012 — 13 Comments


I must admit, I don’t often write about my family in this space. For that reason, this post may seem something of a non sequitur to my normal theological, philosophical, and ecclesiological ramblings. On the other hand, it may be a refreshing departure! 

Several months ago, my lovely wife, April, introduced me to Sarah Bessey’s blog, “Emerging Mummy.” April has been reading her blog for some time and would occasionally forward me her posts. One particular post, “In Which I’m an Uneasy Pacifist” hooked me. Then she and I connected on Twitter and have had some wonderful interactions in that space.

This week, she invited parents to share their best practices for parenting as part of a Parenting Practices Carnival. Loads of people have chimed in, but few dads, it seems. So, I thought I’d add my voice to the melee. 

I’m father to two girls, Sydney and Rylee. Ever since I recognized that I wanted to become a father, I’ve wanted girls. This is curious since I am the eldest of three boys who were, for a time, raised by a single father. Yet I’ve never had that strong desire to have a son that many men seem to have (I would’ve made a horrible member of the European gentry). 

I became a father for the first time when I was 25, then again when I was 27. Only recently, however, have I become a Daddy. See, there are fathers all over the place. It takes very little to father a child. But I’ve learned that leaning into the role of ‘Daddy’ is quite different. Continue Reading…

Some twenty years after he published The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll wrote a follow-up, of sorts: Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind. In it he hopes to offer a way forward out of the pragmatism of 19th and 20th century evangelicalism, while still remaining rooted in the evangelical stream: “The message in this book for my fellow evangelicals can be put simply: if what we claim about Jesus Christ is true, then evangelicals should be among the most active, most serious, and most openminded advocates of general human learning” (Kindle location 22).

For this, Noll looks to early Christian creeds as a lens through which evangelicals might develop a distinctly Christian mind. He writes, “If evangelicals are to make a genuine Christian contribution to intellectual life, they must ground faith in the great traditions of classical Christian theology, for these are the traditions that reveal the heights and depths of Jesus Christ. Intellectually, there is no other way” (loc. 307).


Continue Reading…