I listened to this Art of Manliness podcast on The Leader’s Bookshelf. The host was interviewing Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (that really is some title) who had surveyed a number of generals and admirals to find out their recommendations for books on leadership and then written about the top 50 results.
Earlier this year my friend Jonathan recommended the episode to some school parents since their students were assigned to read Killer Angels, a historical fiction piece about the Civil War. In the top 50 there is a surprising amount of fiction and, less surprising, a lot of history. In the interview itself there are some easy tips for reading more, such as carrying/reading Kindle copies and using small segments of time rather than waiting for big blocks. The episode isn’t groundbreaking, but it is worth a listen for the reminders/encouragement.
The author of Hebrews urged his readers to run the race of faith by first laying “aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). Jon Bloom wrote a series of articles that start with the idea of laying aside the weight of something, and I’ve had this particular post banging around my head since 2014: Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability.
He gives some examples of our selfish justification for being irritable:
- When I’m weary I want rest, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
- When I’m sick or in pain I want relief, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
- When I’m preoccupied I want uninterrupted focus, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
Then he reminds us that there is always a target of our irritability:
Jesus didn’t die for our punctuality, earthly reputation, convenience, or our leisure. But he did die for souls. It is likely that the worth of the soul(s) we’re irritable with is infinitely more precious to God than the thing we desire.
The entire exhortation is worth reading, and repenting where necessary.
These sermon notes on self-control are better than a heap of Babylonian bricks. Wilson aims his admonition at the angry, but certainly there is application for all sorts of afflicting or tempting emotions. It all starts from the text: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, KVJ).
Notice that a man who is not self-governed is compared in the first instance to a man who is defenseless. Not having rule in his own spirit, which means he does not have rule over his own spirit, means that the walls of his “city” are little more than rubble. Now this means that self-control is a wall, a bulwark, and you should want walls like Babylon had, where four chariots could drive abreast around the top of them. Now that’s a wall. But there is more. The man who has “no rule” is a man who has no rule over his spirit. In other words, the problem is that his soul is tempestuous. He lets others live in his head rent-free. This is the man who is defenseless.
Someone who is self-controlled in his spirit is someone who is a warrior. His city is not defenseless, but this control is not just a defensive posture. Note what Proverbs tells us elsewhere. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; And he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32).
A man with self-control in his spirit can defend his city, but more than this, he can take a city.
Read the rest.
The second Raggant Fiction Festival is less than two weeks away. This year’s theme is: Fiction as a Political Weapon
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.
I already tweeted a link to this, but “Two Kinds of Voting, Two Kinds of Disruption, and Two Kinds of Unrighteousness” should be read in its entirety. Here’s just one of many fantastic points:
the act of voting is also a civic duty that tells people what we think America means, what we want to teach our kids about moral leadership, what face we want America to present to the world, and what sort of candidates we want more of in coming years.
Senator Sasse is dangerously close to getting my write-in vote whether he wants it or not.
Abortion does not make sense. It is, and always has been, “fatal violence–against the most helpless members of our human community.” But many in our generation are frantic to deny this reality, so a testimony like that in When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense is potent.
[Abortion] gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.
How do we learn what we should do on Christmas? By remembering what God did at Christmas.
Celebrate the stuff. Use fudge and eggnog and wine and roast beef. Use presents and wrapping paper…You do not prepare for a real celebration of the Incarnation through thirty days of Advent Gnosticism. At the same time, remembering your Puritan fathers, you must hate the sin while loving the stuff. Sin is not resident in the stuff. Sin is found in the human heart–in the hearts of both true gluttons and true scrooges–both those who drink much wine and those who drink much prune juice. If you are called up to the front of the class and you get the problem all wrong, it would be bad form to blame the blackboard. That is just where you registered your error. In the same way, we register our sin on the stuff. But–because Jesus was born in this material world, that is where we register our piety as well. If your godliness won’t imprint on fudge, then it is not true godliness. Some may be disturbed by this. It seems a little out of control, as though I am urging you to “go overboard.” But of course I am urging you to go overboard. Think about it–when this world was “in sin and error pining,” did God give us a teaspoon of grace to make our dungeon a tad more pleasant? No. He went overboard. (God Rest Ye Merry, 89-90).
There’s a new website for the Raggant Fiction Festival that includes audio and video for all seven talks. You can also download an audiobook of the whole kit.
My talk is here: The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert.
The first ever Raggant Fiction Festival happens Saturday and today is the last day to register.
Here’s a good case for pastors to fight on the front of free speech rather than of tax exemption. One reason is because we will lose the rhetorical battle about money.
[P]rogressives have successfully camouflaged their lust for other people’s money as the high point of their altruism, and our objection to being pillaged as our greed.
A second reason is because the liberals say that they love free speech. “So,” we would say to them, “prove it.”
Make they live by a principle they profess to love, instead of a principle they abandoned with seared consciences almost a century ago.