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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Very Funny!

Over at Chrisendom (one of my favorite blogs), Chris Tilling has posted a hilarious video clip from The Daily Show. You have to see this clip.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Banned Any Books Lately?

This week is the ALA's (American Library Association) "Banned Books Week." Here is a description of BBW at the ALA website, "Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2006, marks BBW's 25th anniversary (September 23-30)."

I am opposed to the banning of books in Public Schools, Public Libraries, or the enforcement of a ban on books by certain fundamentalist groups (religious or otherwise) in these same institutions. Responsible reading is a much better alternative to banning books. If the content of a book offends, then do not read the book. There is no need to burn or ban books simply because the content is unorthodox or unpopular and thus offensive.

Typically what happens, here in America anyway, with the banning of a book is a child (student or otherwise) brings home material that is being read, a parent sees the material (i.e. book, essay, etc.) is offended by the content, thus filing a complaint with the school, orginization, or what have you. Sometimes the parent/s will go so far as to petition the material out of a school library or reading program, etc. thus causing everyone else involve (i.e. students, etc.) to not be able to participate in the reading of the material in this school, reading group, etc. This is typically how books/material gets "banned."

Below is a list of the 25 most commonly banned books in the history of print:

"Harry Potter" (Series) (J.K. Rowling)
"To Kill a Mockingbird" (Harper Lee)
"The Color Purple" (Alice Walker)
"The Outsiders" (S.E. Hinton)
"Lord of the Flies" (William Golding)
"Of Mice and Men" (John Steinbeck)
"Goosebumps" (Series) (R.L. Stine)
"How to Eat Fried Worms" (Thomas Rockwell)
"The Catcher in the Rye" (J.D. Salinger)
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (Mark Twain)
"The Giver" (Lois Lowry)
"Brave New World" (Aldous Huxley)
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (Mark Twain)
"Captain Underpants" (Dav Pilkey)
"The Anarchist Cookbook" (William Powell)
"Carrie" (Stephen King)
"Flowers for Algernon" (Daniel Keyes)
"The Dead Zone" (Stephen King)
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (Maya Angelou)
"Go Ask Alice" (anonymous)
"American Psycho" (Bret Easton Ellis)
"The Chocolate War" (Robert Cormier)
"James and the Giant Peach" (Roald Dahl)
"The Pigman" (Paul Zindel)
"A Wrinkle in Time" (Madeleine L'Engle)

"Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." - Heinrich Heine, from his play Almansor (1821) [English Translation: "Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."]

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is this Lying?

For whatever bizarre reason over the last few months this notion or idea or circumstance or whatever “it” is actually called has come up in my daily experiences either through film (watching movies), discussions with other people, etc. What is this “thing” you might ask (or maybe you are yawning right now thinking, ‘should I move forward with this silly nonsense?’)?

Well, I’m talking about the subject of lying. I actually define lying as the deliberate distortion of the truth. The intent to twist the truth, these things defines lying. Please feel free to let me know if you have a different definition. However, and this is the “thing” I’m talking about, if someone withholds information from another, is that lying? For example, let’s say that a husband has received news from a surgeon that his wife has terminal cancer and will definitely only live for 3 months. The husband refuses to tell the wife for fear that the pain might accelerate the illness due to mitigating health reasons, thus giveing her less time due to stress (or something). Is this lying?

Now, don’t focus on the example alone. In other words, do not focus on the details of the example to the point where you might missed the over all general gist of what I’m trying to say. Moreover, do not focus on whether you personally think it is right or wrong as to whether the husband should tell his wife or not; this is merely one example out of hundreds that could be used. I honestly do not think this is lying. By refraining from revealing information, this is not the same as actually distorting the truth (or facts, as the case may be). If someone chose not to tell someone else something, this certainly cannot constitute an act of lying (although I think I have one example where that may not be the case). Lately I have seen this issue come up in several movies we have watched or in several discussions I have had recently, so I thought I would throw it out there and see if anyone would remark on it. Of course there is so much more to unpack in this issue than what I have touched on in this simple post, but I would love to hear what others have to say about it, so feel free to comment if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Taking the "Plunge"

Well, after years of reading at N.T. Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God series, I've decided its time to take the plunge and read the entire series (up to this point of publication). I have read several other works by Wright and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I am excited about beginning this series. This is my pre-New Year's resolution.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Proof" of Demon Possession

I have found definitive "proof" of demon possession. Just watch for yourself ;-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Pope and Islam

Here is an excellent article from a blog called Of Priest and Paramedics regarding the recent fuss about the Pope's speech. You can read the article here.

Enjoy, and I'll see everybody when we get back from Atlanta.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Going to Atlanta

As soon as I get my blog up and going again, I head out of town. We are headed to Atlanta, Georgia tomorrow morning and will be gone until Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, I will not be posting again until we get back. In the meantime, have a good rest of the week and weekend. See you when we get back!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Periodicals

Recently I have subscribed to two periodicals. Both were recommended by a friend of mine and both have been wonderful. The first is a theological journal called Pro Ecclesia. This journal is an excellent ecumenical journal of Catholic and Evangelical theology. I was surprised to find out that Dr. Jeffrey Bingham of the Dallas Theological Seminary (a very conservative seminary and not known for ecumenism) is on the Advisory council for this journal.

Pro Ecclesia, as the website describes, "seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church’s unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion." So far the articles have been written by top notch scholars such as Wofhart Pannenberg, Geoffrey Wainwright, Robert Jenson, David S. Yeago, D. G. Hart, Peter J. Leithart, and many others. If you were unaware of this journal, but enjoy theological discussion/articles, then I highly recommend it.

The other periodical to which I recently subscribed is Touchstone. I must confess that this magazine has been one of the best I have ever read. The last few issues have been amazing, covering topics like Karl Barth, Pluralism, Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court, Creeds, and much more. Like Pro Ecclesia, Touchstone has articles written by well known scholars and the articles are quite thought provoking. I highly recommend both these periodicals!

Does anyone have any others they would like to recommend? If so, feel free to post them in the comments.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quote of the Week

"[W]hen you think about it, faith as belief is relatively impotent, relatively powerless. You can believe all the right things and still be in bondage. You can believe all the right things and still be miserable. You can believe all the right things and still be relatively unchanged. Believing a set of claims to be true has very little transforming power."

- Marcus Borg

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope and Islam

The recent fuss around the world regarding the Pope’s comments has sparked several “politically correct” discussions as well as discussions regarding the reactions of certain Muslims around the world. There are several things I would personally like to address regarding this issue, and some who read this may get offended. If you get offended easily then do not read this.

The Pope apparently put himself in “hot water” with Muslims, and Muslim countries in a speech he presented this past Tuesday in his native country, Germany. The Pope declared that early Islam was spread by violence (he actually quoted from 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus). The media, as well as Muslims around the world, have declared that this comment is a typical misconstrued idea made only by those who are Christian. Therefore, the remark was received by many Muslim communities as an attack upon Islam. I find the reaction, to say the least, interesting.

The reaction from many Muslims around the world has been one of hate, and in some cases violence. Several Catholic Parishes have been vandalized or burned by Muslims, images of the Pope have been burned by Muslims, Christian Churches have been attacked by Muslims, etc. all because of the remarks of the Pope. I can see why the Muslims would respond violently since the comments that early Islam was spread by violence seemed to be unwarranted. (declared with a bit of sarcasm).

While I can certainly understand that the Pope has certain responsibilities as a World Leader to be a bit more mindful about what he says, what I cannot understand is why Muslims react to this type of thing with violence, seeming to confirm the words of the Pope. Of course there is so much more to unpack here than what I have written. However, I can’t help but wonder when certain Muslim countries cheer and dance in the streets of their own country when what they think is a “Christian” country gets attacked by Muslim terrorists and nearly 3000 innocent people are killed, or when Muslim terrorists cut off the heads of American reporters because they come from a “Christian” country and get approval from many other Muslims around the world for this type of violence, that they would be offended by remarks that their early religion was spread by violence.

It would seem that adherents to the religion of Islam today merely confirm ideas such as these (that they claim are false), by performing violent acts against other religions (namely Christian) in the name of their own religion. While I have nothing against the religion of Islam per se, and do not think that merely because some of its adherents are terrorists, means that all its adherents are terrorists. I do, however, have much against unncessary violent reactions to ideas, words, or speeches, simply because someone either disagrees or thinks them to be wrong.

Back in the Saddle

Well, I've been away long enough! I can't take it anymore! I've been having a strong urge to blog, so as of today, Shadows of Divine Things is "back in the saddle, again!"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Church Home

After almost two years searching for a church home, my wife and I have finally found one. For the last two months we have been attending a Church in downtown Fort Worth, TX (a city close by where we live). The church is First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). The church itself is quite missions oriented, has a night shelter in downtown Ft. Worth to help homeless adults and children, is actively patrticipating in Habitat for Humanity, and has a massive network within the church to perform active missions and ministries, etc.

We are quite pleased to be a part of this portion of the body of Christ and both of us look forward to getting "plugged in" to several ministries. We have not been a part of any ministry in some time and very much miss this aspect of our Christian walks/lives. It is nice to finally have a church home once again. Praise be to God!