Fiction as a Political Weapon

The second Raggant Fiction Festival is less than two weeks away. This year’s theme is: Fiction as a Political Weapon

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I get to lead off the day comparing two dystopian imaginations, That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis and 1984 by George Orwell. There’s a new children’s track this year for kids ages 3-10. I wrote a short story that I’m going to read for them in the afternoon. Check out the festival page for the full schedule and titles of the talks. Registration closes next Monday.

The Things of Earth

things_of_earthIf you already saw my book review on Goodreads, I’d still say go ahead and reread my plug for the book below anyway. For emphasis. But first, the following paragraph introduces the book on its back cover.

The world is full of good things…Ice-cold lemonade. The laughter of children. College football. Scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. But what happens to these earthly pleasures when Jesus shows up? Do the things of earth grow strangely dim? Or does he shine in all that’s fair?

I wish I had read this book twenty years ago. That would have been impossible, though, because the copyright is 2015. So I wish I had read another book like it anytime in the last twenty years. But if there is one, I don’t know about it. I wish the truths of this book were in the bones of my Christian discipleship, but since they haven’t been, I’m even more thankful for this book now.

Rigney tackles helmet-on-helmet how Christians must not love the world in one way and how those same Christians—Christian hedonists even—must love the world in another way. He does great work showing the Trinity’s story on earth and how we should think theologically and poetically and eat cake all the while. The categories of comparative love and integrated love alone are worth triple the price of the book.

I restarted reading as soon as I finished. I am telling everyone I know about it. I’ve already bought a copy and given it away.

I do wish the endnotes were footnotes, not only because endnotes are gross, but also because many of the endnotes deserve more prominent page space. I also think the book could have used some Kuyper alongside of Edwards, Lewis, Chesterton, but whatever. If you want to honor God with your heart and your hands then get The Things of Earth and READ it right away.

New Times Three

God does not command His people to read the Bible anywhere in the Bible. That’s probably for two reasons. First, most people didn’t have their own copies of God’s Word to read. They depended on hearing the Word read in corporate worship, and pastors were commanded to read the Word publicly for the people (see passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:27 and 1 Timothy 4:13).1

A second reason why personal reading of the Bible isn’t an imperative is because reading, in and of itself, is much too undemanding. God commands believers to crave the Word like a newborn baby craves milk (1 Peter 2:2). He commands us to mediate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Noble believers examine the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). Wanting it, always thinking about it, and investigating it are much higher callings.

That said, reading helps. Having our own complete copies of the inspired canon in our own language in a portable format to read anytime we want is a thick blessing that we ought not take for granted.

I’ve used the same plan to read through the Bible in a year a few years in a row. I love it. The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan has four separate readings, two from the Old Testament and two from the New. It also has only 25 readings each month leaving room for catch-up days if needed.

This new year I’m switching to try a new-for-me plan and I’m also switching to a new copy. I’m going to follow the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. It also has four readings every day, but it completes the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once. Even though I’m studying for my Bible class at school and to preach on Sundays, I still want more of the Word.

I’ll also be using an ESV Reader’s Bible. This edition has no verse numbers and zero cross-references or notes. It does have paragraphs, and paragraphs make me happy. I got it a few months ago and tried it with the Discipleship Journal plan, but it wasn’t as easy to use because the New Testament readings are usually only certain verses and the Reader’s Bible doesn’t show the verse numbers. The M’Cheyne plan usually includes entire chapters.

It doesn’t matter what reading plan you use. I didn’t write this to persuade anyone to switch. I wrote this to say that I’m thankful for the grace that keeps me hungry for the Word. I’m thankful for the variety and access to resources to choose from. And I’m glad to give something even more challenging a shot. Maybe you will, too.


  1. Israel’s kings were commanded to read and to write a copy of the law for themselves, see Deuteronomy 17:19.

Recommended Instruments for Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

More than a few factors have excited me to study about and learn to sing some Psalms, some of which I’ve posted here over the last couple weeks. It’s taken a couple years, though, of reading and listening before realizing the depth of my musical shallowness. Here is a list of resources that I eagerly recommend, verbal instruments that have tuned my thinking not only about Psalms, but also about music and singing and corporate worship.

A Primer on Worship and Reformation by Doug Wilson Amazon. See especially chapter 8 “The Psalms as a Battering Ram.”

Our Worship by Abraham Kuyper [Amazon]. This is about liturgy, but don’t be scared.

Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art by Abraham Kuyper Amazon. See especially the chapters on art.

The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms by Gordon Wenham Amazon

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves Amazon. See especially pages 58-61 on music.

Future Men by Doug Wilson Amazon. See especially chapter 11 “Church and Worship.”

“The Church Singing” by various. A 9Marks Journal with a variety of articles.

I haven’t read these yet, but I’m planning to:

  • Music, Language, and the Brain by Aniruddh Patel Amazon
  • This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin Amazon

“Musical Style in Worship,” a blog post by Doug Wilson. link

“The Transformative Power of Classical Music” by Benjamin Zander. A video TED Talk: YouTube

“Ears to Hear: The Possibilities of Musical Meaning” by Ken Myers. A four-part video lecture series: Vimeo

“The Classical School and Music” by Doug Wilson. A video lecture: YouTube

“Songs that Shape the Heart and Mind” by John Piper. Video and sermon notes: link

The right kind of fiction will also impress the benefits of joyful song.

  • Beowulf by Unknown (NOT any of the movies. It’s got to be the book. The movies miss the point by a long shot.)
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

If I were you and I knew what I know now, I’d start with the videos by Wilson and Myers. I’d recommend Wisdom and Wonder and The Psalter Reclaimed next. Our Worship would be third, but your musical mileage may vary, as they say.