10 Reasons Books are Better Than People

When I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a Fark.com account (rather than just lurking and reading), ask I had to come up with a Fark handle. The first thing I thought of was “Books are better than people.” And so, sildenafil my fark handle was created.

Having lived with that moniker now for a while, patient I can’t believe how true that name is.

Here are the top 10 reasons books are better than people.

10. Books make a great alternative to wallpaper. There’s nothing better than a wall lined with shelves of books. If I hung people on my wall, it would be kind of messy.
9. I can throw books across the room when they frustrate me. If I threw people across the room as often as I throw books, I’d have a date with officer Taylor on a regular basis.
8. Books are there at 3am when the lone wolf of insomnia beckons. People don’t often appreciate phone calls at 3am.
7. Re-reading a book can be an entirely new experience. Having the same conversation over again is just repetitive.
6. It’s really fun to buy books. Buying people is illegal.
5. I can double my library without doubling my grocery budget.
4. I can write, highlight and underline in books. The only way I could do that to people would be to become a tattoo artist.
3. Books don’t get jealous if I read other books.
2. Books don’t judge me, but they are really, really good at convicting me.
1. When I pick up a book I am transported to a different world with a multitude of adventures awaiting me. People, in general, are, by comparison, boring.

20th Century Theology

One of my favourite and most useful books on my bookshelf is Grenz and Olson’s 20th Century Theology. It does a really good job of tracing the ebb and flow of theology (particularly in tracing how the pendulum of theology swings back and forth between emphasizing the transcendence and immanence of God). The only downside is that the book is a little dated, search and being written in the early 90’s is missing some of the late 20th century theological developments.

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Well! Good news! Roger Olson has announced on his blog that he is in the process of revising and updating the book!

He writes:

I am now in the process of revising 20th Century Theology. The revised, updated work will include more chapters on 19th century theology (thus probably requiring a new title) and postmodern theology. One glaring omission of 20th century theology was Kierkegaard who got only passing mention in the introduction to the section on neo-orthodoxy….the revision of 20th Century Theology… will probably turn out to be a whole new book on modern theology incorporating some of the material in 20th Century Theology.

I am very excited 🙂

Game of Thrones

I watched the first episode of HBO’s new series Game of Thrones. It is based on the books by G.R.R. Martin. While I haven’t read the books, ask Chuck has, case and we’ve spent many many hours talking about this world of Westeros and Essos.

I like fantasy novels. I like novels that create elaborate worlds with their own morals and rules and cultural structures. And I like books that have complex characters. In Game of Thrones there are an awful lot of ‘bad’ people who end up winning, troche and an awful lot of ‘good’ people who end up dying because of of their principles. This is the type of writing that I like.

In anticipation for Game of Thrones, I watched the teaser trailers, and the introductions to the different families. I signed up to follow Game of Throne on Twitter. The buzz was amazing.

And then I watched the first episode.

Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot of potential. My biggest problem was that they HBO’d it. They ramped up the sex and nudity to the point that it made it uncomfortable to watch. It was distracting and didn’t serve any purpose, other than, I suspect, to get the fan-boys titillated.

After watching it, I turned to Chuck and said, “are the books this graphic?” His response was no. In fact, things of a sexual nature are mostly told but not described.

For example:
* In the book there is no whorehouse scene.
* In the book Daenerys was fully clothed when her brother “inspected” her, there was no mention of Dothraki dancers having bare breasts, and the “wedding night” scene between Daenerys and Khal Drogo was handled very differently.
* Flipping ahead, it’s about a hundred pages before sex is even mentioned again (Daenerys thinks back to her adjustment to Dothraki life, including how difficult it was for her that her husband would insist on nightly sex even though she had hideous saddle sores from learning to ride like the Dothraki).

News is out today that Game of Thrones had been picked up for a second season. My only advice: HBO you don’t need to sex things up to tell a good story. A good story will attract ratings and audiences. And, you’re more likely to attract a wider audience if you keep things a little more discreet.

I really hope the second episode next week is better.

Rob Bell Round-up

Today is D-Day, buy viagra or should I say RB-Day. Which means the blogosphere is going to be buzzing with all kinds of Rob Bell related posts. I am doing this round-up mostly for my benefit so I can keep track of the hoopla. But feel free to use it if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Mark Galli has his review over at Christianity Today.

Roger Olson points us to Richard Mouw’s comments that are in USA Today. See also, Dr. Olson’s earlier post on Evangelicals behaving badly.

Dr. Mouw has a post: The Orthodoxy of Rob Bell.

Kevin DeYoung over at The Gospel Coalition has a 20 (!) page review of the book. Justin Taylor also makes a few comments.

Tim Challies posted his review of the book last week.

Greg Boyd has posted that Rob Bell is not a universalist.

Denny Burk’s review is here.

In light of the ‘Hell’ debate, Scot McKnight is doing a series on the Eastern Orthodox perspective of Hell.

Baker Book House Church Connection has its review up here.

Timothy Dalrymple offers his reflections on “Hellgate” 2011.

The Anchoress points us to the 2000 article on the Catholic position: Dominus Iesus; On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church.

Julie Clawson’s review is here.

Scot Mcknight is planning to write about the book in April.

Russell Moore offers his thoughts here.

John Mark Reynolds over at Evangel does his best Rob Bell impression.

** I will update this list throughout the day.

A Perfect Picture of Grace

I’ve been watching the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. Les Mis has always been my favourite musical. The first time I saw it I was 8 years old, salve and I have seen it live three times since. I remember watching the 10th anniversary concert over and over on PBS back in the 90’s. And so when I heard they were doing a 25th anniversary concert I was excited.

It’s only been in this last year or so, cure as I’ve listened to the soundtrack, that I’ve been struck by the amazing story of Law and Grace. Javert epitomizes the Law. He knows what is right, and lives by the Law without giving an inch. Valjean is the portrait of Grace. Because of the kindness of one poor bishop, Valjean is given a whole new chance at life. He sacrifices much to save Fantine’s daughter Cosette. He saves the life of Cosette’s beloved Marius. And more importantly, even though he could take revenge on Javert, he lets him go. Grace triumphs over the Law and redeems it.

And for all of Javert’s relentless pursuit of the hero Valjean, he is not the enemy. I mean he is, but he is not hated by the audience. If anything, he is one of the most noble characters. His death by suicide is heart-wrenching. Javert is like the Law. The Law is not inherently evil. But Grace is better. Grace redeems and triumphs and obliterates the need for the Law.

I’ve linked above to the 25th anniversary version of Javert’s suicide because I was blown away by this Javert. The actor’s name is Norm Lewis and I think he is the best Javert I have seen. Don’t believe me, check out his performance of Stars.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Every book lover’s nightmare has come to life for a fellow blogger. Brian Fulthorp had to pitch his entire book collection because his house tested positive for toxic mold. Theology books, online commentaries, pastoral theology books, all of it gone. Read the post here, and if you can, pop over to his amazon wishlist and see if you can help donate to rebuild his library.

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Eisenbrauns is running a Valentine’s Day contest. (HT)

Love is in the air! We are once again looking for a few good scholars to display both love and linguistics in our fourth Ancient Near Eastern Valentines contest.

We’re asking for no more than three original compositions in any ancient Near Eastern language (ancient Greek is also allowed), accompanied by an English translation. Music, artwork, and video are similarly welcome.

Please note that we’re looking for platonic passion, rather than erotic erudition. Americans tend to be a bit of a prudish lot, and having one’s website classified as “explicit” by search engines tends to kill business, so please, keep the entries non-sexual.

Entries should be sent by e-mail to AKerr(at)Eisenbrauns.com no later than noon on February 11, 2011. If your entry requires special fonts to display correctly, please either include them, or send your entry as a PDF that we can convert into an image. Video should be posted on YouTube, Vimeo or other video-sharing site.

The judging is extremely arbitrary, and the the prizes are thus:

1st Place: $75 Eisenbrauns Gift Certificate
2nd Place: $50 Eisenbrauns Gift Certificate
3rd Place: $25 Eisenbrauns Gift Certificate
Honorable Mentions: Fame and glory.

Bribing the judge may or may not affect results. No one has tried it yet.

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Asbury Seminary has hired Craig Keener. From Pisteuomen:

Keener, a renowned author, respected scholar and globally reputable teacher will migrate from his post at Palmer / Eastern and relocate to Kentucky. Keener will be working with graduate and post-graduate students alike, mainly in the department of New Testament studies. There are many reasons Keener will be a good fit, not least being his diversity in the Gospels & Acts, his extensive knowledge of Historical Jesus & Pauline studies, but also because he is globally and missionally minded, which is a huge part of Asbury’s ethos.

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The trailer for X-Men: First Class has been posted. Darn. I was figuring I would by-pass this movie, but the trailer actually looks somewhat promising.

Michael Horton on Barth

The Christianbook blog has an interview posted with Michael Horton, hospital author of the newly released systematic theology, cialis sale The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the way. In part two of the interview, discount Horton talks about Barth and how those in the Reformed tradition react to, and engage with Barth’s theology.

Matthew: Do you think the cool reception of Barth by many in the Reformed camp is warranted?

Horton: Barth is his own best interpreter on this. In his Göttingen Dogmatics, he relates how blown away he was by actually reading Calvin and the post-Reformation Reformed theologians.

In many ways, he was inspired in his own program by this period. He had been taught by his liberal professors to dismiss all of this as child’s play, but he found it to be a room filled with treasures. On the other hand, he himself says later that he left hardly any Reformed doctrine standing in its confessional form.

From the doctrine of Scripture to eschatology, Barth used the same terms and categories, but radically revised nearly all of them. I think we’re entering a phase now of more light than heat. There are some terrific critiques of Barth by Reformed evangelicals today that are far more nuanced, informed, and engaging than many of yesteryear.

The reaction against Barth was understandable, especially as many evangelicals were embracing his views as a way of avoiding both fundamentalism and liberalism. However, I get the sense that these days there are more folks who are not fundamentalists, liberals, or Barthians. And that perhaps allows some space for more sympathetically critical analysis.

Matthew: Do you believe he is often misunderstood by more “traditional” Reformed Theologians?

Horton: It depends on which theologian and on what topic. One challenge on our side as conservatives is to assume that we know what someone believes without having to investigate the details. If one believes X, then logically that means he or she must believe Y, and so forth. However, that doesn’t always work and it isn’t really charitable, as we know when we’re accused of believing that human beings aren’t responsible because we believe that God is sovereign.

For example, Barth was not driven by liberalism; in fact, I believe that many of his mistakes were made out of an over-reaction against liberalism. Swinging from romantic-liberal emphasis on God’s immanence, Barth so stressed God’s transcendence that revelation could not be identified directly with any creaturely medium, including Scripture. This even affected his Christology.

If we’re going to critique conclusions, we need to know how they are derived and not just assume that inadequate views of Scripture, for example, are always liberal. Distortions can come from all sorts of different quarters and the “liberal-conservative” way of categorizing things often misses important nuances.

Being “Cautious” of Mere Christianity

Kevin DeYoung over at TGC has a post up about why we should be cautious of C.S. Lewis. The reason: Lewis wasn’t an evangelical (the shock! the horror!) The reason he wasn’t an evangelical: he didn’t hold to penal substitution as THE model for the atonement; and he might have been an inclusivist. The reason for the post is that several days ago, seek DeYoung collated a list of the most influential books for Reformed evangelicals (based on submissions from comments). Mere Christianity made the list, sickness and he said that that was okay, but only with several “cautions”. So today’s post was the cautions.

A few observations:

1. No book is perfect. It is fine to offer cautions, concerns, dislikes and disagreements with a book. But to single out one and not have cautions for the others simply because they are part of the “acceptable” literature (i.e., reformed, evangelical, calvinist) is unfair. One of the books on his list was Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (It came in at number 2!). There are several (okay, more than several) cautions that could and should be offered for that book. But it gets a free pass.

2. Being evangelical does not mean holding penal substitution as THE only model for the atonement. Kevin DeYoung suggests that Lewis’ model of the atonement is more like the Christus Victor model, as if that is a bad thing. Evangelicals hold to a wide-ranging understanding of the atonement. To be evangelical does not mean having to embrace only one. (For the record: I tend to a more Kaleidoscope view of the atonement and if I had to choose a close second it would be a Christus Victor view).

3. We need to be careful with throwing around a charge of inclusivism. The term Inclusivism is like the term semi-Pelagianism: people like to use the term as a weapon, but most of the time they don’t understand the term, and they don’t fully understand the argument that the supposed “inclusivist” is making. That being said, evangelicals affirm two Scripture verses that would seem to point to an inclusivist theology: John 3:16 — Jesus died for the WHOLE world; and Roman 14:11 (see also Philippians 2:10) — one day EVERY knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus as Lord. What that looks like and how that will play out is beyond our understanding (and should be).

Anyway, check out the post. Add your voice to the conversation going on over there.