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Posts Tagged ‘CS Lewis’

A friend recently asked me what are my family’s traditions for Christmas.  Besides a formal meal, we also purchase and decorate a Christmas tree, the latter usually to the backdrop of nostalgic Christmas songs and candlelight.  But the most familiar tradition, even an oft-lamented one in our materialism-saturated society, is the exchanging of gifts.  But I am convinced there is nothing inherently wicked with either the getting or the giving of presents.

Gift and give are newer forms of a presumed old, old root, the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *ghabh- meaning “to give or receive”.  Before it reached English, it appeared in the Old Norse with a definition “gift, good luck”.  For a while it was pronounced yiven, before the guttural ‘g’ resurfaced.  An initial ‘h’ sound is also associated with the root, developing into the somewhat opposite word have.  Isn’t it interesting that giving and receiving are so closely linked that they’re all mixed up with the same family of words?

Present specifically carries the notion of something offered, freely, but before it is received.  It is set in the presence of one, placed “before their face”.

The word receive has a more Latin than Germanic heritage, entering English c. 1300, about 200 years after the Norman French conquest of England, from the Old North French, meaning at that time “seize, take hold of, accept”.  I like the emphasis on the fact that a gift cannot simply be thrust on someone; the action is interactive, with the receiver willingly taking the gift.  In earlier forms, found in Latin, the word meant “regain, take back, recover, take in, or admit”.  There’s a sense of vengeance contrasted with the sense of hospitality.

Hospitality is, in Greek, xenia, especially referring to the “rights of a guest or stranger”.  There is a city in Ohio named for this word.  I think that is a lovely motto of which to be reminded every time one’s city is mentioned.  It is not so much seen in our country as in many other nations, including the Israelite tribe whose generosity to the poor and stranger in the land was mandated by the Mosaic Law (see also this passage).

Hospitality is also a French/Latin borrowing, also since the 1300’s.  It comes from a word meaning “friendliness to guests”.  Compare this to the word host, whose entry at Etymonline.com goes further than the longer form hospitalityHost goes back to the PIE *ghostis- which is supposed to have referred to both the host and the guest, with an original sense of referring to strangers, on whichever side.

In the 1993 movie, “Shadowlands”, based on the life of C.S. Lewis, there is a scene about Christmas in which he is discussing the fate of the season in their mid-century culture:

One [Inkling] laments, “I’m afraid Christmas, as I remember it, is rather a lost cause.”

Jack, as his friends call him, and sounding rather like his voice is echoing out of far-away winter-bound Narnia whispers, “It’s because we’ve lost the magic… You tell people it’s about taking care of the poor and needy, and naturally they don’t even miss it.”

To which his friend, a Roman Catholic priest, responds, “The needy do come into it: ‘no room at the inn,’ remember?  The mother and child?”

I do like to remember that.  I like that older songs remember that.  I like that my friend this year asked for suggestions of how to make our holiday reflect the truth of this verse, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” She wanted to know how to celebrate being made rich and to imitate Christ’s poverty-bearing, rich-making love.

There is a tradition of being charitable particularly at Christmas.  (This is in the line of other, biblical feast-days, during which kindness to the poor was encouraged in response to God’s blessings of abundance that were being celebrated, especially in the harvest-feasts of Firstfruits and Tabernacles.  It is a way to recognize that it is God’s undeserved blessing that provides enough to survive or feast.  If we, by pleasing Him, do not relinquish His grace, we are to expect His continued blessings.  And He is pleased when we remember the poor and have charity towards them.  We can give like the saints in Philippi, depleting our own storehouses, knowing that the God who is using us to care for the poor will faithfully provide for us as well.)

This responsibility to the poor is communicated by the history of the word generous, which originally meant “of noble birth” (same root as genus, referring to biological descent and classification into kinds or races or families) and only by implications of the duty, of those blessed with more, to share with those who have less did it come to mean “magnanimous”.

Benevolence, “disposition to do good”, is a compound word, from the Latin bene “well” and volantem “to wish”.

Alms is another term for this benevolence.   In Old English it was ælmesse, occurring also in German, and Latin, where it is spelled eleemosyna.  This was, in turn, borrowed from the Greek eleemosyne, referring to “pity, mercy”.  In modern English, though rare, it means a gift, especially of money or food, given out to the needy.

Charity is from the Old French, “charity, mercy, compassion; alms” from Latin, “costliness, esteem, affection”.  Isn’t it instructive, the impulse of expressing love by costly, sacrificial giving?  It can be satisfying, and blessed, to give.

Love is, by own definition, the giving of a treasure.  Treasure comes from the same Greek root as thesaurus, and it means “hoard, storehouse, treasury” – presumably of something worth enough to be collected and kept safe.  Can stores be shared?  What does it say when one is willing to disperse a hoard?

Donation is attested in Latin, donum, “gift”, from the PIE *donum.  The same word is found in Sanskrit: danam “offering, present” and in Old Irish dan, “gift, endowment, talent”.

In my family’s tradition, the focus is more on expressing love to one another than to those less fortunate.  Our gifts are an exchange, late 1300’s, “act of reciprocal giving and receiving”, from the Latin ex- “out” and cambire “barter”.  Cambire is supposed to be of Celtic origin, the PIE *kemb- “to bend”, developing in the sense of altering the current state, then specifically changing something by putting something else in its place.

At Christmas especially, the packages under the tree are almost always wrapped, so as to be a surprise.  Unexpectedly, this word used to mean only “a taking unawares; unexpected attack or capture”.  The roots are sur- “over” and prendre “to take, grasp, seize”.  It might be ironic that though we think of thinly cloaked gifts as surprises, at Christmas they are not always unforeseen or unexpected; who hasn’t made a Christmas wish list?  In fact, it is perhaps a disadvantage of our custom: that gifts come to be expected, or even demanded, by the recipients.

When the word wrap appeared in English around AD 1300, it meant “to wind, cover, conceal, bind up, swaddle”.  I think we do this to increase the ornamental feeling of festivity, not as a symbol of the baby Jesus being similarly wrapped before being placed in a manger.

Swaddle seems to come from a word meaning a slice or strip.

Ribbon, which often adorns our gifts, might have a similar historic meaning, if it is related to band, “a flat strip” and “something that binds”, a rejoining of two divergent threads of Middle English, distinguished at one point by different spellings, band referring to joining together and bande to a strip or even a stripe (where it likely morphed into ribane, a stripe in a material).  The original root of band is, PIE *bendh- “to bind”.

Something else we use to hold things together when we’re wrapping them?  Tape.  My cousin says, “tape, lots of tape.”  This Old English tæppe is a “narrow strip of cloth used for tying or measuring”.  It could be formed from the Latin for “cloth, carpet”, tapete, or it might be related to the Middle Low German tapen, “to pull, pluck, tear”.

(These words are so fun, the way they communicate the action by which the thing got to be – or the state that inspired and enabled an action.  What was life like for the people who named a strip of fabric tape?  Well, maybe they were pulling on cloth {reminiscent of one of my favorite Christmas movies, “Little Women”, where the ladies of the house spend time tearing old sheets into strips to be used as bandages for those soldiers wounded in the American Civil War}.  Why would they do that?  To have something with which to bind things together.  It’s a different world from our manufacturing-driven lifestyles, where tape and ribbon and string are purchased in packages off of shelves.  They’re things made originally for their purposes, not improvised from something else.  It’s like a history lesson in a word!)

The other reason we think of gifts during the holiday season in which we remember God’s entry into our world in human flesh is because His birth was honored by gifts from wise visitors from the East.  These men recognized that Jesus was born to be the King, the long-prophesied King of the everlasting kingdom.  And though this God-King could have turned stones into bread, and summoned armies of angels, He chose to experience poverty.  Though He experienced the lowliness of being born to a poor mother and living as a refugee, a stranger, in Egypt, he was honored by costly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh when a very young boy.

Such is the nature not only of love, to give sacrificially, but also of worship.  How remiss would any of us be, to overlook the presence of the Highest King?  Not only is His worth expressed by Kings giving Him treasures; it is demonstrated by the “sacrifice of praise” every person can offer:  The Christmas carols sing that the wise men have “come to pay Him homage,” Old French “allegiance or respect for one’s feudal lord”, from Latin homo, “man”.  Or in “What Child Is This?” we are bid to “haste, haste, to bring Him laud”, also Old French, “praise, extol” from Latin laus, “praise, fame, glory”.  A cognate, or brother-word in Old English was leoð, “song, poem, hymn”.  He is worthy of the richest treasures.  We owe Him everything we have, everything that is.  We also owe Him our allegiance, our praise, our songs.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Many thanks and credit to the resources of www.Etymonline.com and www.Dictionary.Reference.com in compiling these definitions and histories.  Also to www.BlueLetterBible.org for Scriptures.

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CS Lewis wrote a book, That Hideous Strength.  It is one of my favorite novels.  Early in the story we meet a newly married woman named Jane, who has discovered that marriage is not what she imagined.  In fact she imagined a lot about her life that just isn’t so.  And some things have come up that she never intended.  Her initial reaction is to reject uninvited realities, and to be miserable about her disappointments.  She thought her life could be made by her, her marriage, her identity.  Gradually she acknowledges that this was never an option in God’s plan.  Always she has been His, with a role to play that he wrote, that fits in best with others who are surrendered to the author’s intentions.  And what a disaster when you fight it.

 

The whole earth is suffering from just such a rebellion.  Every man is trying to make himself God and the world in his own wisdom, trampling others, insanely overlooking facts of nature.  But the Church is meant to stand opposite the chaos, showing how every part does its share through the measure of gifting supplied from God, keeping our places as God has set each in the Body.  CS Lewis uses the house of Ransom to depict this unity in diversity, showing not only how much we need each other, but how we are most ourselves when seeking how to bless one another instead of trying to figure out who we are and what life we want.  Let others tell us, or by their needs reveal to us, what becomes us.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan – A well-written book about Christian living.  Dare to believe in a God who is not about rules, whose way is not comfortable or easy or popular.  Practice His presence.  Wait on Him and don’t give up, taking matters into your own hands.  It took me a while to read this book.  But every time I picked it up, it echoed the very lessons God was driving home in my lived-out life.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning – All about grace.  And grace is always good.  I knew before I read it to be wary of some of Brennan Manning’s ideas, so that didn’t hang me up.  Even when I disagreed, I talked to my Jesus about it, and *that* made my week.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo – Was not a great story, not great writing, and not a great ending.  But I read it anyway, my first venture into Austen fan-fiction.  The title was the best part.  (To be Austen purist, I am pretty sure the author mis-identifies the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.  She should have said Bertram, but she said Rushworth.)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (see full review)

Castles in the Sand by Carolyn A. Greene – A novel about the subtle ways pagan spirituality and eastern mysticism are becoming accepted in evangelical Christian organizations.  Focuses on the teachings and life of Teresa of Avila.

Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard – The classic Jane Austen novel with lots of extra commentary as well as notes about history, economics, and fashion.  I liked it a lot!

Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul – Explanation of Calvinism especially versus Arminianism.  Focuses on the doctrine of predestination.

Tristan and Isolt, A Play in Verse by John Masefield – A short play telling a story of thoughtless love leading to tragedy.  What is real love?  How does Destiny figure in?

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo – Another adventure in England with the Formidables, this time featuring a codependent heroine who has the chance to reinvent her life for a couple weeks without worrying what anyone needs her to be.  The exercise reveals her insecurity and causes her to confront her life choices.  Can a woman build a life on other people?

Green by Ted Dekker – Book 0 of the Circle Series, the beginning and end of the Thomas Hunter story.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, which Ted Dekker says is ok.  But it was confusing.  And I don’t think I like reading the end before the beginning.  I did like all the talk about hope.  And remembering that spiritual realities are real, even if they are unseen.

Miniatures and Morals: the Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart – A wonderful look at the beloved authoress’ use of satire, contrast, irony, and very good story-telling to communicate a morality originating in a deeply Christian worldview.


The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner (see full review)

Why Pro-Life?  Caring for the Unborn and their Mothers by Randy Alcorn A short summary of the major points of pro-life Christianity.  Pro-life is also pro-woman.  The “choice” is a moral one.  Preborn babies are people, too.  Pro-life ministries also help women after the babies are born.

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (see full review)

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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The post-modern world is rather fond of saying that there are no absolutes. A logical counter to this is to ask the relativist whether his statement about absolutes is absolute. He is in the difficult position of refuting his own claim whenever he states it. In rational debates this breaks the law of non-contradiction.

For several years, since reading Christian apologists like CS Lewis and Ravi Zacharias, I have been convinced that there is only one internally consistent worldview, and that is the biblical worldview. All other explanations of reason and existence cut the ground out from under themselves. Either the beliefs themselves are self-refuting, like the man who tried to disprove the existence of air; he was using air as he tried to deny it; or they reduce to absurdities; or they never really deal with the fundamental questions, but rely on borrowed but unadmitted presuppositions from other worldviews. In the final case, we consider their beliefs to be arbitrary, rather than rational.

My explanation could not have been termed with such clarity without first reading Dr. Jason Lisle’s new book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Creationists have plenty of evidence for the biblical history of the world. They have evidence contradicting the evolutionary and uniformitarian theories of origins. Bible-believing scientists are even doing real science all the time (science of observation and technological advancement to improve our lives), just as they have done for thousands of years. None of these things convinces a man committed to a naturalist worldview. But no naturalist can debate against the Bible, for evolution, or conduct science of his own without assuming things that can only be true if the things the Bible teaches are true. This is the ultimate proof, to engage skeptics on their worldview.

This method has several advantages. First, it keeps in mind that the motive for Christian apologetics is to glorify God and to invite non-Christians to be saved. Thoughtful meekness is what the Bible directs us to have when responding to critics. The Bible also teaches that if we do not live consistently with our beliefs, our critics have reason to ridicule us and those beliefs. Consistency is a biblical tactic.

Second, the Bible does give instructions for debate. Dr. Jason Lisle has applied two verses in Proverbs to his debating style. Do not let a skeptic convince you to fight on neutral ground when the question you are debating is inherently about the reliability of your ground as opposed to all others. For a Christian to abandon, for the sake of argument, his belief in God and dependence on the account of the Bible, is to surrender before he has even lifted his sword. But we can do an internal critique of the skeptic’s position, making apparent where he contradicts himself or leaves questions unanswered.

Third, and I really appreciate this one, a Christian apologist using these techniques does not need to be a PhD or have memorized an encyclopedia of scientific evidence for Creation. Creation science is valid and interesting, but not every believer is called to that kind of knowledge of the world as he is called to give a reason for the hope that is in him and to preach the gospel to every creature. In my experience, it is great for a philosophical person like me to team up with someone who knows a lot of facts, and to tag-team a discussion. Or I could practice a bit more so that I can have some representative cases of creationism scientifically supported.

The Ultimate Proof of Creation is an interesting book on logic and worldviews, exciting as I think of applying it. Think of watching the Discovery Channel and being able to identify the worldview being used, the presuppositions made, and the logical fallacies committed. This book enables you to do that. Or it can help when you’re trying to stay focused when witnessing to a friend who doubts the Bible. Learn to find ways to tie all questions into a question of faith: do you accept the ultimate standard of God, who created you – or do you reject Him and therefore all that depends on Him (including your will and rationality)?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

The Ultimate Proof of Creation

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Books Read in 2009!

Ahhh!  Is it 2009 already!  I guess it would have to be, but I’m really not prepared for 2009.  I liked 2008 – as a number – much better.  Funny, because I would prefer 9 the digit to 8.

Ok here is what I have read so far (and I’ve told you everything, but not all together):

10 Most Common Objections to Christianity by Alex McFarland (This is a book that our high school girls small group went through this fall.  It was a really good defense of the Bible and the existence of God.  We got a basic course in apologetics through it.  The appendix for small groups in the back was a great help.  My one reservation is the weakness of his chapter on evolution – but only in the area of the age of the earth.  If I were a skeptic, I don’t think I would be flattened by all of the points in this book, but some of them are pretty convincing!)

Desiring God by John Piper (Read this book.  Don’t get turned off by the term “Christian hedonism.”  Christian is an important modifier.  God calls you to enjoy Him, for life in Him and through Him to be all about relationship.  Get some good teaching on some great verses to help you put it into practice!)

Coming to Grips with Genesis by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury (see full review)

The Empty Cradle by Philip Longman (see full review)

Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (see full review)

Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In by Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey (see full review)

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias (A quick read, unusual for this author, this book is a how-to on finding God’s will for your life, emphasizing faith in the sovereign plan of God.  Using the illustration of the father-son teams of weavers who make the wedding saris of India, Dr. Zacharias talks about the perfection of the Father’s plan even when we don’t see the design emerging yet.  One of his favorite topics is the Trinity: “unity and diversity in community”, and he uses it to communicate the love of God for us His children.  The second half of the book, comparable to other reformed works on the purpose of a Christian’s life, focuses on worship as a way of life.  In this book the Anglican roots of the author emerge more than in anything I have read or heard of his, as he revels in the imagery and tradition of the church as it pertains to worship.  The best part about this book to me was the quotes, which I can hear Ravi reciting in his crisp Indian-accented English.  I wish I could live in his library, because I have no doubt that this Christian apologist owns copies of the cherished volumes he quotes. )

Persuasion by Jane Austen (Yes, I read it again.  And it is still wonderful, far exceeding any movie renditions to date.  I want everyone to know this sweet story and to emulate the gentle, helpful, good, passionate Anne Elliot.  I also wish everyone to have her happily ever after!)

The Eighth Shepherd by Bodie and Brock Thoene (Centered on the story of Zacchaeus, this dramatization of the gospels teaches the importance of humility before the Shepherd-King who hears prayers and has come as doctor to the sick.  Enter Jericho.  Read of figs, taxes, sycophants, blind men, slaves, and the faith that could set any man or woman free.  Ask the question with Shimona whether it is better to be sick and know your need or to be healed by an excommunicant and feel alone.  Why does God save and heal?  What comes after that?  Perhaps God sends out the healed as instruments of more healing.  Shimona demonstrates courage, faith, gentleness, and a choice-love that doesn’t make sense but won’t be denied.  Can God use the love of His children to soften the hearts of the sick and the lost?  I loved the Ezekiel passage about shepherds placed between chapters.  What a warning to Christian leaders, and encouragement to those who are fed by the Great Shepherd.)

Chronology of the Old Testament by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones (see full review)

Ninth Witness by Bodie and Brock Thoene (is another of their novels dramatizing the life of Christ, this time focusing on his twelth year Passover in Jerusalem.  I confess I didn’t like this one as much as most of this series.  The authors seem to be making Jesus and Simon Peter boyhood friends, and they felt it necessary to portray Mary and Joseph as adopting children rather than them being fathered by Joseph and mothered by Mary, the plainest interpretation of the New Testament account.)

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (see full review)

Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna (see full review)

Reimagining Church by Frank Viola (see full review)

The Shadow Within by Karen Hancock (see full review)

Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms by Sir Isaac Newton (see full review)

Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock (see full review)

Unveiled Hope by Scotty Smith and Michael Card (see full review)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Despite contamination with inappropriate and disturbing material, this is a parody of the classic novel beloved by refined women everywhere.  I get the impression that Seth believes he can improve Jane Austen’s work.  Often retaining the original language, he adds his interpretation of the story – things you know he was always longing to say he guessed about the characters’ true intentions or activities – and the ridiculous addition of zombies.  Most versions of Pride and Prejudice retain the same characters and plot, but this is a rather amusing twist that ends up changing the characters significantly.  To describe this book I have told everyone that the famous scene where Mr. Darcy first proposes involves the exact dialogue of the original, but Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are literally dueling.  Go figure.)

Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard (see full review)

Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews by David Pryce-Jones (A summary of centuries of French policy and prejudice, including some world history especially in the 20th century.  David Pryce-Jones researched the archives at the Quai d’Orsay for internal memos and official reports detailing the Foreign Ministry’s policies towards Jews and the Arab world, proving that all France has ever intended was to be more prominent and powerful than the Jews or the ‘Jewish-dominated’ United States.)

Flood Legends by Charles Martin (see full review)
Blink of an Eye by Ted Dekker (see full review)

The cry in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, is not a yell from rooftops. This is a crying book, with tissue and red eyes and the ache in your throat when you try to hold back the tragedy from taking over you. There are no answers in this book, only the brave resolve to do what is right and to speak the truth, knowing that some things belong to God, and He alone can rescue mankind. South Africa, like all of our nations, has for decades and centuries been in the brokenness that needs God. Still men are praying, and crying for their beloved country.

JRR Tolkien: Myth, Morality & Religion by Richard Purtill (see full review)

Get Married by Candice Watters (Some encouraging stuff and some challenging ideas and some points of view that weren’t helpful. I believe God wanted me to read the book, so I did.)

Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss; Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss; I had Trouble Getting to Solla-Sollew by Dr. Seuss; The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss (who knew Dr. Seuss didn’t just write silly nonsense! Some of his books are actually allegories and parables. I much prefer them if they rhyme, but am rather unhappy when the rhyme is only accomplished by inventing a word.)

The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle (see full review)

Return of the Guardian-King (Legends of the Guardian-King, Book 4)
by Karen Hancock
(see full review)

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (The classic children’s story about growing up. Not quite like the movies. Great writing, quirky quotes. I cannot figure out whether JM Barrie was trying to say something with his story, or a lot of things as they popped into his head. He seems to be fond of manners and humility.)

God and the Nations by Dr. Henry Morris (see full review)

Perelandra by CS Lewis (is the richly poetic tale of Ransom’s trip to the planet Venus, where he encounters the first created woman of the land, the Eve.  Ransom discovers the purpose for his visit when his old enemy, Weston, splashes into the Perelandrian ocean, bent to tempt the woman to prove she is “grown up” by moving out of the will of God.  While this question is strongly presented, there are other parts of the story more moving.  The opening description of the fluid islands and sensuous sights and smells, the intriguing but unfathomable moodiness of a world that is femininity incarnate – this is a strength of the story: the environment is a character.  As a character, it can be accepted or rejected or even abused.  Will one take the next wave as it comes?  Does a man try to maintain his plane when the island swells first into a hill and then dips into a valley?  If a fruit is good, must one drink of it again even when full?)

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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God gave gifts unto men.  Through His Spirit, He empowers His Church to grow into unity and the maturity of Jesus Christ.  Jesus promised the Spirit would guide us into all truth.  Paul specifically lists teachers among God’s gifts to the church.  Timothy Keller is such a gift.  (Actually this is the only book I’ve read by him, so I can’t vouch for anything else.) 

 

Do you read through the Bible and wonder what significance a fact or story had that God included it in His unperishing Word?  Do you ever find yourself astounded by discovery as you read, seeing depth and import in the passage that you never saw there before?  I love to find a teacher or author who has been granted insight into a part of the Bible that had always seemed way over my head (or beneath my notice).  Whether in only one chapter of all the books they’ve written, or but one exposition they gave aloud to a congregation or conference, I feel like jumping up and down, thanking God for this gift that draws me closer to my Savior. 

 

In Prodigal God, Timothy Keller blends a big-picture view of redemption and the Bible with the drama of one of Jesus’ most famous parables.  This is one of those rare books where I don’t feel like quoting or underlining, because entire chapters would be quoted and underlined.  One of the most moving points of the book is simply the title.  In the introduction, the author explains himself.  We often refer to this parable as the Prodigal Son – but Jesus specifically introduced it as the story of two sons.  Prodigal is a true description of the younger brother, who got all he could as soon as he could and spent it with equal recklessness and extravagance.  When we call the Father prodigal, we are talking about a whole different kind of spending.  He spent all He had on us, to find us and bring us back, and to welcome us into His love.  To be so extravagant also makes the word prodigal true of Him.  And how can any of His children be unmoved by His sacrifice? 

 

I met my God in this book, not for the first time, but oh, He was there!  His image sparkled as I read through descriptions of the commonly described “sinner”, the younger brother, to the older brother whose heart is equally proud and rebellious, but who is trying to use God and goodness for his own ends, to the older brother that should have been, the missing character from the pattern of the two preceding parables in the trilogy.  Who was seeking and saving the lost?  Is forgiveness really ever free? 

 

After forgiveness, what then?  What was God’s design for living as His children?  Timothy Keller spends the final chapter of The Prodigal God talking about feasts.  Jesus’ first miracle, a sign of the purpose of His ministry, is a (wedding) feast.  The night before He was betrayed, Jesus ordained a new feast for His followers as a remembrance of Him.  The close of this church age is a (wedding) feast where the Church is reunited with her Redeemer.  And eternity is something of a feast, living in the presence of God and eating of the tree of life.  Once again emphasizing relationship, this chapter presents salvation as “taste and see” believing that is lived out and continued in gratitude and celebration of the grace of God.  As anyone knows, celebration is not to be done alone.  In fact, quoting CS Lewis, Timothy Keller makes the point that relationship with God experienced in community brings out more of God than you could experience on your own.  Therefore the final challenge of Prodigal God is for you to invest in a gathering of believers with the same love with which you compassionately seek those who are lost, desiring them to share with you in the Father’s love. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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One of my good friends smiled when I told her I was reading a book about aliens.  “You read such varied subjects,” she laughed.  And I do, but I definitely see them as connected.  In the same way that there are so many points in which I am disappointed with traditional (as opposed to biblical) church because they are all connected to a basic definitional idea of church, these varied subjects (Iceland, aliens, church, relationships, history, biography, philosophy) are part of a worldview.  You may call it the homeschool culture.  Or maybe it is the Christian bookstore (I doubt it).  A lot of my connections come from being a Creationist.  I’m a fan of logic and words (logos), two indivisible concepts.  The history of God, the world, science, cultures, languages, laws, and on and on all fascinate me. 

 

In this case I can trace my reasons for reading this book (Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates) to several things.  First of all, when I was in grade school my dad got Chuck Missler’s newsletter from Koinonia House.  These newsletters promoted edgy concepts of apologetics and Bible interpretation/prophecy such as the Bible code, Edenics, a variable light speed (he’s big of physics, and smart enough to handle it), and aliens.  Chuck Missler has tapes on the Martian Monuments, the Nephilim, and the alien phenomenon in general.  Though I haven’t read or heard much from him on the subject, the impression I get is that Alien Intrusion is in majority agreement with Missler’s position. 

 

Secondly, who is not fascinated by accounts of alien encounters and UFOs?  I’ve seen the TV specials, watched Star Wars and Star Trek.  I read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy in which he invents a population on Mars and another on Venus in order to delve into the idea of free will.  Stars and astronomy and theoretical physics all hold that appeal for me, too.  And I cheer for the underdog.  All these ordinary people have experiences that the official authorities deny or deride.  HOWEVER, whenever I watch a TV special about aliens or read an account purported to be true, I get the chills.  I am assaulted by fear and nightmares, and a sense of spiritual attack – doubt. 

 

Answers in Genesis advertised Alien Intrusion on its website, a Creationist, Christian investigation into the phenomenon.  I knew what to expect from the book just from things I’d heard suggested as explanations for the alien phenomenon in Christian circles.  Intrigued to get one well-researched, relatively safe treatment of the subject, when I saw the book at our Christian bookstore several years ago, I picked it up.  The cover is a pretty, typically alien teal with the curvy shapes and stark glaring brightness contrasted with shadow (covers – I’ll admit – are big sellers to me).  And initially I took some casual Sunday afternoon time (commercials during a Bronco game) to flip through the contents.  What I read so disturbed me that I once again got chills and fear, and had to set the book aside. 

 

In the intervening years, I have picked the book up a few more times, re-read the back cover, and scanned the contents page.  Finally this month I had the guts to sit down and start reading Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection from the beginning.  Some friends were discussing aliens and Nephilim; Dad and I attended a Steeling the Mind Conference at which the book was being sold again.  And my walk with God is in a good spot, well-supported by regular Bible study (alone and with groups) and frequent prayer.  I would not recommend that a Christian read this book outside of such precautions. 

 

The content of this book is definitely for mature audiences as well, since it describes (with proper restraint, but also with enough detail to establish patterns in sightings and encounters) disturbing physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual occurrences. 

 

There are several benefits of reading the book straight through.  The first is perspective.  Gary Bates starts slow and gradually builds, almost imperceptibly delivering the clues that led him to his conclusions.  Another advantage is the tone.  Rather than moving from intense moment to new revelation to intense moment, the book breaks up the information with summaries, inserts about sci-fi books and movies, and gradually more Bible verses.  A final plus from reading the text is that the book is an apologetic for more than just an explanation of UFOs.  Through descriptions from witnesses, historical comparison/research, and logic, the book defends belief in the supernatural, absolute truth, creation versus evolution; and the Bible as the reliable and honest account of history, supernatural beings and intentions, and even the future. 

 

Alien Intrusion isn’t some wild call to a UFO cult or to buy gear from Roswell.  It isn’t a conspiracy theory pamphlet (at 340 pages with so many footnotes, that would be a stretch of a definition anyway).  Nor is Mr. Bates an indiscriminate believer in every UFO and alien claim made by anyone all over the world.  He is interested in evidence, in logic, in corroborating witnesses – and he is out to find the truth. 

 

One of the most interesting discoveries uncovered by this book (not that the author made the discovery, but he is surely one of the biggest providers of the information to the public) is in the field of alien abductions.  The abduction responds to an abductee claiming Jesus’ name.  In fact, researchers have collected descriptions of interrupted abductions, all of which ended when Jesus was spoken.  Some abductees who experienced this said that the presence abducting them seemed pained by the name, and the abduction did not resume.  Several claimed to be Christians, while others came upon the name by chance. 

 

Abductions and alien encounters are universally acknowledged to be much more frequent among those who have at any point in their lives dabbled in the occult: in New Age, in psychics, witchcraft, or even Satanism.  The after-effects of an encounter are typically deeper and more devoted involvement in New Age beliefs and practices.  Even the crop circles hoaxes were, when infused by willing visitors, sites of unusual paranormal feelings, sightings, and events. 

 

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin.  Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us?  The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible.  The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense).  They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion. 

 

Are the aliens good?  Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution?  No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative.  They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees.  Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences.  Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings. 

 

Are aliens new?  No.  The history of the world is filled with accounts that, names and stories apart, tell of the same phenomenon of supernatural visitors with the same message, the same techniques, and the same affects as aliens today.  These include elves, fairies, pagan gods and goddesses, and even demons.  The world’s most reliable history book and document on spiritual realities, the Bible, also describes these phenomenon, giving the origin of these beings and their purpose.  According to the Bible, men have worshiped these beings in conjunction with the starry hosts, sorcery, channeling, and witchcraft throughout history.  These beings consistently reject a literal understanding of an authoritative and infallible Bible, though willing to plagiarize the Bible and to claim to be characters from it. 

 

The Bible also warns against interaction with these beings, predicting the harmful results to individuals who do.  It warns against behavior and worship often connected with these encounters, the same behavior on which the New Age philosophy is built.  Historically, every extra-biblical religion has incorporated some or all of these things, and many religions and cults have founding stories similar to abduction or channeling accounts (including Islam, Mormonism, New Age, and Scientology). 

 

Why now?  Why in this century is there a massive increase in the number of sightings?  The Bible describes a time of deception and world unity under this deception.  Given other biblical prophecies compared to the times in which we live, many Christians would agree that end times events are advancing towards the climax of the spiritual battle being waged for millennia over the souls of men.  Another reason for the flood of alien sightings and paranormal encounters is the cultural openness created by people and by the church.  The world has embraced relativism.  It has reacted against two world wars and nuclear weaponry.  Men and women have embraced lewd sexuality like never before in this country.  Evolution is the common theory of origins (universally taught by any alien visitor or proponent).  And the Church, those who have been saved by Jesus’ blood shed as he substituted Himself to take our punishment for rebellion against God, has been silent and wishy-washy on truth.  We have compromised the Bible, leaving truth up for grabs or a popularity contest.  A world desperately seeking answers, craving authority, and coping with the inherent longing for purpose and connection with their loving Creator God has been left in the dark because the Church will not be salt and light. 

 

Get informed.  Accept the biblical description of a supernatural (spiritual) reality.  Proclaim the truth.  Live by it. 

 

For my part, this book challenged me in my willingness to believe in a supernatural world.  It’s all safe and comfortable to believe in a supernatural God if He doesn’t do anything supernatural.  If He just sort of works circumstances out for the best, I’m ok with that.  But what about miracles?  What about angels and demons?  What about supernatural judgment?  Reminded of the spiritual war being waged, and of the power of the beings deceiving men who have no accepted the truth (found in the Bible, enabled by an “encounter” with Jesus that is utterly unlike the alien encounters), I am challenged toward compassion on the foolish people I see wandering my world.  How can they believe abortion is ok?  How can they give themselves over to extramarital sex?  How can they not see that an economy built on debt is destructive?  Why are cults and false religions so popular?  The answer is that they are deceived.  A battle is being fought in the “inter-dimensional” realm of the angels and demons.  To these people, their senses are out of their control.  Reality really does feel like it is relative or changeable or insignificant. 

 

Like all of the Masterbooks I have read, Alien Intrusion includes a strong defense of biblical inerrancy and a frequent, well-explained and relevant description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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