My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

23 June 2007

What my brain is eating

Here are some things entering into my brain these days:

The Narnian, by Alan Jacobs - this is sort of an intellectual biography of C. S. Lewis. It is, without qualification, excellent. After fifty pages, I thought Jacobs was very smart. After 100 pages, he started to make me smarter. I especially have been appreciating his explanation faery (an English literary construction - important for all y'all who don't like fairy stories). The title reflects Jacobs thesis, that Narnia was place Lewis inhabited, spiritually and intellectually, and the books he wrote flowed from his God-enchanted worldview; I want to live in Narnia. They have talking mice. With swords.

Handel's Messiah by the London Philharmonic Orchestra - Goose bumps covering goose bumps.

Ringing Bell, Derek Webb - Paste magazine gave Webb's new CD 5 stars, which prompted my purchase. It's a trim, 30-minute pop music masterpiece. Smart songwriting and good music. Let's hear it for Christians who've moved their art past kitsch.

Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Ed Welch - My respect and appreciation for Ed Welch continues to rise. His excllent book on addictions should be required reading for anyone interesting in killing idols. This book on depression is gracious and gentle and Christ-centered. He doesn't run to quick solutions or hurtful platitudes about depression. If you fight depression or love folks who do, please buy this book and read it with them.

I'll be at synod next week, accompanied by my laptop. If you luck out, I just might post some updates; last year, I did updates in haiku. This year, I'm considering limericks. Or, if I'm really, really crazy, iambic pentameter.


32 comments:

Josh said...

Huzzah! Jared finally bought a Derek Webb cd!!! You chose a good one to start with Jared, but you should follow it up with "I See Things Upside Down". Still great writing, but a strong Wilco in the era of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot there. It's like nothing you've heard from a Christian artist. Stellar!

Alicia said...

I might check that Lewis book out. Thanks! I'll see you Monday at the evening meeting.

Kurt said...

"God-enchanted"

This phrase kinda fits with the likes of "pretty ugly" and "clearly confused" and "jumbo shrimp." I think they call them oxymorons...

"1297, from O.Fr. enchantement, from enchanter "bewitch, charm," from L. incantare, lit. "chant (a magic spell) upon," from in- "upon, into" + cantare "to sing." Cf. O.E. galdor "song," also "spell, enchantment,"

Jared said...

Kurt - thanks for the thought. You're right that a strict definition doesn't work in that statement - Jacobs' point about Lewis is that, despite his exceptionally broad learning and brilliance, he never lost the ability to delight and wonder in God.

Jeff Kessler said...

How does a Calvinist "luck out"?

JK

Jared said...

Jeff, that was just a secret test. Congratulations, you passed...

kurt said...

I don't know, Jared.

First, "God-enchanted" and then, "luck out."

Are you sure you're not reading too much C.S. Lewis and Tolkien?

Kurt said...

"C. S. Lewis—Who He Was & What He Wrote" takes another view from a Christian perspective that parents especially should review before deciding whether it's worth it to read works by him or Tolkien.

Jared said...

Oh man, that was one ridiculous article by someone who shows little to no understanding of C.S. Lewis, his thought life, his Christian faith, or really anything of importance. Chronicles of Narnia are occult? The sound you hear is my eyes continually rolling. And John Bunyan dry heaving. That was not a Christian perspective and Lewis *does not* teach a Christianity of mere behaviorism.

Let me seriously address one issue: that of reading fantasy. It is part of the Christian faith, even the faith of our youngest, to be able to imagine a world that doesn't exist. Narnia is one way God used to teach me to think about and rejoice in heaven; I don't think heaven will be exactly like the "higher up, higher in" from the Last Battle. And I don't mean to imply one can't learn about heaven from Scripture. But even Scripture could be seen as fantasy - not as untrue, but as presenting us with a picture of heaven we have to imagine because we haven't seen it. Of course parents should know their children and not allow to read literature too intense or "fantastical" for them to handle, either intellectually or spiritually.

Finally, obviously I believe every reader of Lewis must read from a Scriptural foundation and be ready to reject some of Lewis' thoughts (including the apparent Arminianism in the Last Battle). But we must do that with every book outside of Scripture.

Kurt said...

One problem with fantasy is that, by it's very nature, it glorifies escapism from the real world.

It even affects Christians, who when exposed to fantasy early in life, may develop a tendency to pine away for heaven, rather than continually seek God’s help to solve problems on earth in the here and now. It gives an unscriptural attraction to escape this world and long for heaven, when God has placed us here, for a time, for His purpose. Could this be a factor in the pietistic retreat of the Body of Christ from this world in recent history? I don't know for sure, but there are interesting correlations.

For one, recent "Christian" fantasy (MacDonald,Lewis, Tolkien) offers an influential stop on the continuing destructive, evolving historical path of the fantasy genre. Read Wikipedia’s fascinating "The History of Fantasy" and a pertinent WorldNetDaily article.

The bottom line is that there are more than enough worthy books out there (more than any person can read in a lifetime) for Christian children and adults that we can avoid altogether the unnecessary and potentially destructive fantasy genre.

Jared said...

Kurt, I'm not buying (whatever it is you're selling).

First, it is a literal impossibility to be "so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good." The more we meditate upon God's version of heaven, the greater good we will be to this side of heaven. I would be glad to defend this if you like.

The "pietistic retreat" you speak of (a great phrase, by the way) comes from the very mindset you evince: that of wanting to avoid anything in the world which could possibly hurt us. (Which, of course, includes everything in this world.)

Second, the world net daily article is about harry potter. Without getting into Harry Potter, it's simple enough to say Rowling's books are quite different and other than Lewis' and Tolkien's books, even if they fall in the same general category. A while ago, you taught me what "poisoning the well" is - here is a golden example.

Bottom line? Yes, good and great books abound and one could avoid fantasy altogether and live a faithful Christian life. I might even be convinced someday that some should avoid fantasy (though I'm far from that right now); however, God has given us the ability to imagine worlds that do not exist, to delight in story and heroes and great beasts (y'know, like dinosaurs and serpents), etc. Doing so, engaging in writing and reading fantasy, is a healthy and enjoyable use of a Christian mind.

Kurt said...

“Kurt, I'm not buying (whatever it is you're selling).”

That’s fine. I’m just providing a viewpoint that might help some to consider something more than the apparent present day Christian “conventional wisdom” that says “Gee, Narnia’s cool…and it’s Christian!” Reading books, such as the Chronicles of Narnia or The Hobbit, has become as much an automatic rite of passage for the Christian youngster as going to college. :>)

“First, it is a literal impossibility to be "so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good." The more we meditate upon God's version of heaven, the greater good we will be to this side of heaven. I would be glad to defend this if you like.”

Jared, I don’t think I used that phrase. Even so, I don’t think it accurately reflects what I said. As Christians, by our redeemed nature and by definition, we will do earthly good. But, if we develop a mindset of “escapism,” we will not do as much “earthly good” as our Lord intends us to do. After hearing too often that “heaven is our home” I’d love to hear more messages that help inspire us to do more earthly good.

“The "pietistic retreat" you speak...comes from the very mindset you evince: that of wanting to avoid anything in the world which could possibly hurt us. (Which, of course, includes everything in this world.)”

There is truth to what you say. But, Jesus also said that we are to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world. We are not to take on the “ways” of the world. The fantasy genre emotes “escapism” and whatever “good” one can get out of a fantasy novel, can be more effectively and safely obtained by the myriad of other kinds of books out there.

“Second, the world net daily article is about harry potter. Without getting into Harry Potter, it's simple enough to say Rowling's books are quite different and other than Lewis' and Tolkien's books, even if they fall in the same general category. A while ago, you taught me what "poisoning the well" is - here is a golden example.”

Maybe you didn’t get a chance, but a careful review of the “History of Fantasy” entry in the Wikepdia encyclopedia, which I provided, shows the path fantasy novels take. In the context of “fantasy” there are similarities between books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Harry Potter series that make them extensions of each other, especially to the mind of a child. That’s not to say, that “Christian” fantasies” don’t have inherent problems on their own, notwithstanding the Christian “seal of approval” than lowers the guard of the reader.

“Bottom line? Yes, good and great books abound and one could avoid fantasy altogether and live a faithful Christian life. I might even be convinced someday that some should avoid fantasy (though I'm far from that right now);..”

Don’t be discouraged. There’s always hope! :>)

“..however, God has given us the ability to imagine worlds that do not exist, to delight in story and heroes and great beasts (y'know, like dinosaurs and serpents), etc..”

I think we might have a hard time defending from Scripture that our ability to do something always means that it’s a good thing. Somehow I think the ability “to imagine worlds that do not exist” doesn’t rank high on the list in helping children lead Godly lives.

I know, you’ve already said that God used “Narnia … to teach me to think about and rejoice in heaven." But, you also admitted that it wasn’t necessary. You said, “I don't mean to imply one can't learn about heaven from Scripture.” Interestingly, you hastily followed that statement up to justify your view of fantasy with “But even Scripture could be seen as fantasy - not as untrue, but as presenting us with a picture of heaven we have to imagine because we haven't seen it." But, of course, it isn’t. Scripture is not fantasy as it is describing a “real place” not a “world that does not exist.” I hope you see the difference and the confusion that can take place with children. God is the creator of worlds, not us.

We don’t need to “imagine worlds that do not exist” in order to “delight in story and heroes and great beasts.” In fact, fantasy often distracts us from the reality of life. I think most of us have often heard the cliché that “truth is stranger than fiction.” There are many wonderful stories of “heros” and “great beasts” in our history. Men and women who have seemed to accomplish the impossible, but by the grace of God, succeeded. But, we seem to have forgotten many of the great deeds of God (Ps 78:7, Is 46:9) working throughout human history up to our present day.

Parents, how many of our children would be more apt to be able to recount the works of Aslan than, let’s say, the works of God during our country’s War of Independence? If we don’t like the answer, we can do something about it. “Christian” fantasy needn’t be a “slam dunk” read for our children, especially if we’re mostly hoping to spark their interest in, or continue their taste for, reading. We should pick the type and content of reading material for their edification, not for the sake of reading itself. There’s so many more books out there better suited for inspiring the Christian life than fantasy.

Jared said...

Kurt, this will be my last post on this. Needless to say, you have misunderstood and misrepresented my position (I'm used to it by now).

First, it is necessary in order to lead God-honoring lives that we are able to imagine things not yet. Issues related to this: sanctification (the me "not yet"), heaven (the earth "not yet"), the church (esp. her invisibility), the return of Christ. All of this takes, to use a more modern buzz word, requires a moral imagination. So, again, your argument that imagining something that doesn't exist not being super pertinent to godly lives is wrong.

Just because something isn't absolutely necessary doesn't mean you get to throw it out or call it unnecessary. Stories and myths and fantasies have always been a part of humanity. Jesus told stories; the Old Testament invites us into a world very different than our world. So read some good fantasy.

Saying "good fantasy" shows my understanding that there is, in fact, "bad fantasy" - this is where readers and parents need to beware. But, of course, the same discernment needs to be exercised in any reading (especially, I would note, in "Christian fiction" wherein dispensationalism and/or mere moralism currently reign).

Parents, please read Narnia to your children. Help them live there, prepare them to fight the white witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas.

Again, for those on the fence regarding this issue, I would heartily recommend Jacobs' book on Lewis.

Jon said...

Kurt --

I've just read this post, and I'll throw in my two cents at the end.

You say: "Somehow I think the ability “to imagine worlds that do not exist” doesn’t rank high on the list in helping children lead Godly lives." But isn't this what all of us are called to do every day? Doesn't every effort at improving the human condition involve an act of world-imagining? Doesn't Scripture provide a model for imagining the world as different than it is?

In your protest, it seems as though you've become overly hung up on the utopian ideal of pure, unpolluted correlation between the thing and its referent in what you read. The existence of metaphor in a text (be it mythical, fantastical, etc.) is NOT a weakness, or, at least, not an escapable one. It is simply the way language works. Even descriptions of God in Scripture are (of necessity) metaphorical. This does not mean that they are untrue; it means they are unable to show us the fullness of the face of God. Call it sin, imperfection, or whatever you like--it is part of human existence in language. Everytime we speak, there is slippage between the thing and the words we use to describe it (for this, you have only to look as far as Augustine's "On Christian Doctrine"). Every time we speak, we create or imagine worlds.

It's true that there are dangers that can be avoided by avoiding fantastical texts (just as there are dangers that can be avoided by avoiding any and all texts). However, there are also things that cannot be described--possibilities that cannot be imagined--as effectively in any other way. Just as authors must, on occasion, resort to poetry to speak effectively, they must also, on occasion, resort to fantasy.

The question, therefore, is not: "Are worlds being imagined?" but: "What KIND of world is being imagined in this case?" Is the world Homer imagines useful? What about Dante? Or Milton? Or Nietzsche? Or Lewis? Or Rowling? (By the way, you're Wikipedia article--like most Wikipedia articles--is overly simplistic in its description of the differences between the periods these authors inhabited.)

It's possible (though sad) that you might find none of these authors useful. But don't simply write off a text or reduce it to secondary status because it imagines or creates worlds. We'd all be a lot poorer.

Kurt said...

Jon,

It helps to define things. When saying “to imagine worlds that do not exist” I'm talking about talking animals, witches that have true power to be feared, and other fantastical things that are not reality nor will they ever be in God's world.

"Is the world Homer imagines useful? What about Dante? Or Milton? Or Nietzsche? Or Lewis? Or Rowling?

Like Luther's response to the Emperor regarding his writings, it depends on which ones. Dante's and Lewis' work that promote the fantastical, fear-mongering, and extrapolation of Scripture, I would say they are problematic. Rowling's works are a waste, both as literature (literary scholars back me up on this) and as occult fantasy that can mess with childrens' minds.

Once again, when reading books, as in anything else, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."

We need to help our children redeem their reading time.

Kurt said...

”Needless to say, you have misunderstood and misrepresented my position..”

I’m sorry, Jared. I can only respond to what you write. If I read it that way, perhaps others read it that way, too. So, my response would be helpful for them, anyway.

”First, it is necessary in order to lead God-honoring lives that we are able to imagine things not yet. Issues related to this: sanctification (the me "not yet"), heaven (the earth "not yet"), the church (esp. her invisibility), the return of Christ. All of this takes, to use a more modern buzz word, requires a moral imagination. So, again, your argument that imagining something that doesn't exist not being super pertinent to godly lives is wrong.”

The settings of the books you tout are not reality, nor possible, nor ever will be, and promote escapism, as compared to a book like Pilgrim’s Progress, which avoids those problems. To say we need fantasy story settings that can’t be real in order “to imagine things not yet” is without foundation.

”Just because something isn't absolutely necessary doesn't mean you get to throw it out or call it unnecessary. Stories and myths and fantasies have always been a part of humanity. Jesus told stories; the Old Testament invites us into a world very different than our world. So read some good fantasy.

The problem I think you’re having is that you continue to mix stories, myths, and fantasies, which are all not the same thing. This confuses the issue for folks.

”Saying "good fantasy" shows my understanding that there is, in fact, "bad fantasy" - this is where readers and parents need to beware. But, of course, the same discernment needs to be exercised in any reading (especially, I would note, in "Christian fiction" wherein dispensationalism and/or mere moralism currently reign).

"Parents, please read Narnia to your children. Help them live there, prepare them to fight the white witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas."


I would say that “bad fantasy” is a redundant term, generally speaking. To take fantasy into the realm of “Christian fantasy” I would be doubly careful as we tend to let our guard down because of the “Christian” qualifier, and we become less than discerning.

Bob Smietana, in a Christianity Today article titled “C.S. Lewis Superstar” wrote that:

”Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically…Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn't subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution. He believed in purgatory and baptismal regeneration. How did someone with such a checkered pedigree come to be a theological Elvis Presley, adored by evangelicals? ...

Part of Lewis's current appeal... is a postmodern interest in 'thin places'—places where the physical world and the spiritual world meet—and for myth that makes sense of life in a way that rational thinking can't. For their dose of myth, postmoderns turn to The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and, of course, Narnia…
Fantasy allows you to explain and grasp and integrate into your life things that are not logical
.

All of God's worlds are logical, by nature, because God is logical. A person like Lewis who, for example, does not hold to biblical inerrancy, will not be restrained in stretching the truth or adding truth in his fantasies that will be hard for children, and even adults, to discern.

Thus, the problem with “Christian fiction” as you admitted, applies to Lewis as well. But, you give Lewis unqualified endorsement for Christians to read.

Jared said...

Argh. Kurt. How long, O Kurt, how long? How long will you put words in my mouth and seek to destroy me?

I did not give Lewis unqualified endorsement. I asked parents to read their children into Narnia. I, for one, am so excited to read these stories to my children and I fully expect them to be wonderful literature ("experts can back me up") and stories bringing them more and more joy in reading.

Simply put, I do not believe your arguments hold water and I do think fantasy is an appropriate genre of literature for Christians to read and write.

Kurt said...

Jared admits that we should be discerning when reading anything, especially “Christian fiction”:

”Saying "good fantasy" shows my understanding that there is, in fact, "bad fantasy" - this is where readers and parents need to beware. But, of course, the same discernment needs to be exercised in any reading (especially, I would note, in "Christian fiction" wherein dispensationalism and/or mere moralism currently reign).”

My response showing that we need to be “especially” discerning with Lewis’ “Christian” literary works because of his questionable theology, which may be distorting his moral view:

“All of God's worlds are logical, by nature, because God is logical. A person like Lewis who, for example, does not hold to biblical inerrancy, will not be restrained in stretching the truth or adding truth in his fantasies that will be hard for children, and even adults, to discern.

Thus, the problem with “Christian fiction” as you admitted, applies to Lewis as well. But, you give Lewis unqualified endorsement for Christians to read.”

Jared’s retort:
”Argh. Kurt. How long, O Kurt, how long? How long will you put words in my mouth …"

Jared’s unqualified endorsement of Lewis’ Narnia series in his own words:

”Narnia was [a] place Lewis inhabited, spiritually and intellectually, and the books he wrote flowed from his God-enchanted worldview; I want to live in Narnia. They have talking mice. With swords...”

“Parents, please read Narnia to your children. Help them live there, prepare them to fight the white witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas…”


Jared, I would appreciate it if you would please point out to me where I was putting words in your mouth. Wasn’t that an “unqualified endorsement” of Lewis’ Narnia series?

Jared said...

Kurt, I fully endorsed (without qualification) Lewis' Narnia series, but you accuse me of having endorsed all of Lewis works. This was untruthful. Readers should read Narnia. Those who like Lewis (and you should, for many reasons) should be aware of his theological problems (there are several).

While we're (still) at it, it is my opinion that Lewis' "moral view" is much more solid than most "Christian" fiction peddled today. (This includes Henty's historical fiction.) Most Christian fiction is bald moralism and legalism. In Narnia, there is real growth and sanctification.

Kurt said...

I'm sorry, Jared. I should have been specific in my original posting. A more specific response by you, as well, would have saved me the time and effort of my follow-up posting. For,as my last post clearly stated, I didn't mean that you endorsed all of Lewis' works.

You're a brave man to be disparaging G.A. Henty. Many of us would be interested in your analysis of how Lewis' moral view is more solid than Henty's historical fiction. As far as the "settings" issue, the methodology of historical fiction is hands down more edifying for children and less apt to encourage "escapism" than the fantasy writing of Narnia-type works.

Jared said...

Kurt,

"the methodology of historical fiction is hands down more edifying for children and less apt to encourage "escapism" than the fantasy writing of Narnia-type works" - there's no way to support this other than your opinion. If it is your practice to prefer historical fiction over fantasy, good and fine. Great, even. Keep reading. But don't argue for your opinion like it's a fact. This is a mild form of legalistic oppression.

Kurt said...

"This is a mild form of legalistic oppression."

Jared, you forgot to preface that with "In my opinion" :>)

Jon said...

Kurt --

I didn't really intend to write back (in part, because you never responded to the substance of my last post); however, you threw Henty into the ring, so here goes . . .

First of all, I love a good adventure story, and Henty was a consummate storyteller. As someone who was also homeschooled and brought up with a deep familiarity with and love for 19th Century prose, Henty is a great read.

However, the problems with his "moral view" are pretty troubling, and the fact that you tout him as such an unproblematic moral force that it requires "a brave man" to impugn him is even more troubling.

To begin with, Henty was, by his own admission, a British imperialist--committed to the expansion, conquest, and colonization of the British empire. He admitted that his books helped foster the imperial spirit. His adventure stories are primarily about characters joining the military and seeking their fortune. Local economies are unconcernedly exploited as characters travel to collect wealth and then return to England, rarely choosing to settle in the countries they visit.

Henty's second goal was to teach British boys proper behavior and character. Good up to a point, but Henty's emphasis on the development of gentlemanly behavior in boys of proper birth preserves racial superiority and affirms a natural, stable, and well-defined class system.

In Henty's time, this class system was being reinforced by Social Darwinism, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. Darwin's theories were widely appropriated at this time to justify inherent British superiority and the inherent inferiority of others, like the African "natives," who populate Henty's novels. See, for example, By Sheer Pluck, where a character describes Africans as "stupid" and "just like children", saying: "The intelligence of the average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old." Also, in A Roving Commission, Henty uses the nation of Hayti as: "a proof of the utter incapacity of the negro race to evolve or even maintain, civilization, without the example and the curb of a white population among them."

Although superior to blacks, the behavior of Arabs is also determined, not by their character, but by their nature, so that, in With Kitchener to Khartoum, a character says, "There is a deep fanatical feeling in every Mussulman's nature."

Now, I don't want to be too simplistic about this. Henty does include plenty of examples of people rising up through character and good behavior, although these are mostly young British boys already of gentlemanly birth. And, towards the end of his life, Henty did show some indication of what his "Times" obituary describes as his "lateral" inclination "to very liberal views in politics and religion."--particularly in the area of class. (See, for example: With Kitchener in the Soudan and The Dash for Khartoum)

The point is not to say "never read Henty again," but to always (as you've so often said) read cautiously. Your (frankly strange) overdetermination of genre—which leads you to insist on arbitrary separations between "myth", "story", "fantasy", "history", and so forth—causes you to glorify the historical novel as somehow inherently superior to other forms. Let's be clear, the historical novel is just a particular form of fantasy. History is literature—selective, biased, incomplete. The historian takes lists of data—facts and dates—and then makes choices, selecting what will be emphasized and what will be included in order to tell a story for a particular audience in the present. Historical novels do the same thing, only more explicitly. If anything, I would argue that historical fiction is often MORE dangerous than fantasy, because its constructedness is often obscured behind a veil of "reality." At least in fantasy, the metaphors are clearly presented as metaphors.

Presenting Henty's work as fact or as unproblematic fables of morality and goodness, is a dangerous proposition. Keep reading Henty, but treat him with the same sense of the problematic with which you approach Lewis or Rowling or anyone else. You really need to become a more sophisticated reader and critic of texts—less obsessed with the outside of the cup and more concerned with what's inside. You owe that discretion to your kids.

Kurt said...

Jon,

I'd love to more fully continue this debate, however I just don't have any more time at this point. I'll try to be brief. :>)

Basicly, lovers of "Christian" fantasy, like Jared, are the ones who are promoting it's wonderful religious truths that help children "imagine the unseen things of God." I never claimed historical fiction does that so you can't compare Lewis & Henty in that vein. However, the settings of historical fiction, which are based in reality, give children a more cohesive framework from which to learn about "real" places and "real" people, even their warts and problems which we all have to deal with in our human nature.

Interesting, you apparently have a "glass is half empty" negative view of God's use of Christian-based cultures to spread the Gospel through colonization as you tried to paint it with a humanistic brush, a view of history that, unfortunately, seems to be held by too many, especially in the Body of Christ. I prefer to look at it as a "glass half full."

BTW, Jon, you're new ( pseudo-BLOG established,June 2007). Fill us in by telling us a little about yourself so we can see what kind of common references we have. Thanks!

Kurt said...

Hey Jon,

Here's a free book that will help you on your way to looking at history and the future from a better perspective.

The original Christian culture-based colonizers of our country were of good Separatist and Puritan stock that had a God-glorifying eschatological view for spreading the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, and an influence way beyond their numbers. You can, too, and hopefully give your children a truly Providential view of history!

Jon said...

Kurt --

I won't post in more responses here. I'd be happy to talk more if you want to post a comment on my blog. But I don't want to get too far off course on Jared's post. I want to respect his space. Plus, I'm pretty sure we've hit a stalemate.

I'm a doctoral student who grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian church. I haven't read Gentry, but I have read Van Til, Boettner, Chilton, and North--not to mention good chunks of the Princeton School and the Puritan writers. I'm quite positive you won't convince me of your disturbing position on colonization.

Kurt said...

"I have read Van Til, Boettner, Chilton, and North-not to mention good chunks of the Princeton School and the Puritan writers. I'm quite positive you won't convince me of your disturbing position on colonization."

Too bad. Having an exposure to presuppositionalism and the positive, Gospel spreading, post-Mil eschatological view of the Reformers from England and Scotland are key elements for seeing past the Darwinian, humanistic bias on history as taught in the school system and universities. I know it helped me.

Kurt said...

Oh, and Jon….

You might want to reconsider this "disturbing position on colonization" by taking time to read primary source documents that give us the true flavor of history by providing the foremost reason driving Christian men from Christian countries, even “Roman Catholic” Spain, to “colonize” distant lands. Christians don't have to be ashamed if they hold the correct presuppositions regarding this area of history:

From opening entry of The Log of Christopher Columbus :

“In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Most Christian, exalted, excellent, and powerful princes, King and Queen of the Spains and of the islands of the sea, our Sovereigns:…Your Highnesses decided to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the regions of India, to see the Princes there and the peoples and the lands, and to learn of their disposition, and of everything, and the measures which could be taken for their conversion to our Holy Faith.

I informed Your Highnesses how this Great Khan and his predecessors had sent to Rome many times to beg for men learned in our Holy Faith so that his people might be instructed therein, and that the Holy Father had never furnished them, and therefore, many peoples believing in idolatries and receiving among themselves sects of perdition were lost.

Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and Princes devoted to the Holy Christian faith and to the spreading of it…..”



From The First Charter of Virginia; April 10, 1606

“We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government:…”


William Bradford’s original manuscript rendered into Modern English in Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650:

From Reasons which led …to decide upon Settlement in America:

”Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world…”


From the beginning of the Mayflower Compact:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia;…. pp. 75-76

Jared said...

Jon, I just wanted to say thanks for your great comments. They were very insightful and helpful -Jared

Jon said...

Thanks Jared. Hope Synod's going well.
-JonE

Kurt said...

Jon, one last thought before you go...

Half empty or Half full?

Do we prefer to look at history through the negative humanist/defeatist view of degenerate man and the evil that he has wrought or the Providential Christian view that God has worked in the lives of a dedicated Christian minority whose influence has been much greater than their numbers that helped overcome the effects of the depravity of man’s nature?

As Christians, we do have a choice.

May God bless you in the understanding of history.

MarkPele said...

Jared, man, sometimes I'm thankful that I don't have a blog as popular as yours. BTW: I like C.S. Lewis and the Fantasy genre. I especially like those authors that really immerse themselves and explore the realities of their new world, and especially that those things we might consider "extraordinary gifts" like talking animals, magic, ESP, whatever, have dark sides, too.