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The End of Many Books

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

by Carlo Cipolla

Brief. Basic. Brutal. Befitting to our day. A call for backbone.

I will be referring to lessons learned in this book again and again for years to come.

Should you read it? Only if you don’t want to be stupid.

5 of 5 stars

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Every Thumb's Width

The River of Knowledge

I came across this pic in an article about keeping a digital commonplace book and wanted to save/share it here. At our school we talk about how We stand downstream in the river of Western civilization, and the Omnibus curriculum is one attempt to swim in waters.

The river of knowledge is as broad and fertile as the Nile, which is to say, full of nuggets of excrement, viral diseases, and the occasional crocodile. We don’t want most of this stuff to stick….

But the valuable concepts, ideas, and stories that drift our way are worth retaining. If we want to get compound interest on our knowledge, we have to stop all these precious ideas from draining straight back out the holes in our colander-brains.

How to Get Compound Interest on Your Ideas, Richard Meadows

There’s junk and treasure in the river. I thought the image above was worth collecting.

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Every Thumb's Width

A New Standard

I’ve been thinking again about starting a newspaper (or a newsapp) for Marysville.

It’s an idea and conversation I’ve had before, but at that time there was the “Marysville Globe.” According to Wikipedia the paper was established in 1891. That was even before the internet. For the two decades I’ve lived in Marysville it was the only local paper I knew about. It’s also the local paper I rarely read due to the less than scintillating copy. It might have been bad, but at least it was ours.

Sometime in the last year or so it disappeared. The url – www.MarysvilleGlobe.com – redirects to the Everett Herald. Bleh. There’s just an archive of the Globe available now.

Which means we’ve got a real opportunity and zero current competition.

There’s a fantastic book called, Rules for Reformers. It focuses on place rather than media, but one of the principles is finding a city that is both strategic and feasible. It is a place that matters and is also a place that can be taken. A “paper,” so-called,” isn’t a city, but it is a source of information and perspective that could really start a fire.

So what if we started a paper that was Local first, State second, Nation next?

What if we loved our city in a way that brought out more of its loveliness?

What if we provided a biblical perspective on what’s happening among and around us, re-presented our Constitutional liberties to our fellow citizens, and pushed our local magistrates to remember their authority and responsibilities to protect us against so much tyrannical overreach coming from the “power” cities of our State?

What if we celebrated our local businesses – where you could enjoy coffee and beer and more – and promoted entrepreneurial opportunities?

What if we highlighted the ridiculousness of some of the official positions in our public schools, and also highlighted some of the other educational movements that are actually awake to the deadly dreams of the woke?

What if we connected churches, not to be under the same roof, but to build a better culture on behalf of the same Lord?

What if we acknowledged that Jesus is the Lord (Romans 10:9), that He is before all things and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 17), that in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), and that we will give an account for everything to Him (Hebrews 4:13)?

So what if we called this venture The Marysville Standard? A friend of mine started working with this name a couple years ago. That name might remind us that we are under a (transcendent, eternal) standard, it could urge us to set a new standard for local news and editorials, and it respectfully recalls the name of the paper Abraham Kuyper started in Holland, De Standaard, the same guy who said that Jesus claims lordship over every thumb’s-width in the domain of human existence. That includes Marysville.

Let me know what you think, if the juice would be worth the squeeze, how you could help.

Categories
The End of Many Books

Desiring the Kingdom

A friend gave me a copy of this book and I was eager to get after it right away. It didn’t take too long before I was reading bigger chunks at a time…so I could be finished with it faster.

The book is primarily about the power of liturgy to affect our desires/loves. And amen. This is something I had not thought about until ten or so years ago, and I am very thankful that this book by James Smith is not the first one I came across. It might have messed me up all over.

It’s not just that I don’t care for a number of his terms, such as “precognitive,” but I really came to not believe him when he tried to stick on a weak qualification here or there about how we shouldn’t abandon all propositions/sentences/statements of truth. Liturgy should be emphasized, especially among those who only see worldview issues through catechesis. But Smith emphasized it in such a way that liturgy becomes the autocrat of pedagogy, so to speak. But God gave us His Word. His Son is the Word. Psalm 19:7-8 describes the Word as potent.

I cannot recommend that you read this, and, if you do, watch out that you do not follow Smith in giving too much authority to the experiences and feelings and traditions of men.

1 of 5 stars

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Not in the Now

One thing we’ve really been seeking to do better as a church is consider the relationship between sacred and secular. Often the two are distinguished as church and not church, but if that’s the line, then we are headed for problems, as church history has shown. Others want to see the everything in the world as sacred, but that could make it harder to avoid the sin of worldliness, as if there was no such thing.

The word secular comes from the Latin saeculum which meant “age,” an amount of time roughly equal to the potential lifetime of a person or the equivalent of the complete renewal of a human population, a generation. It’s a measured way of referring to the now, the current. A secular man is identified as a man of this age. He’s a chronological sectarian. His context is narrow because his context only has room for what’s on the calendar on his desk.

A Christian man lives in the present, but his faith connects him to higher realities in heaven, invisible realities in the present, inescapable realities in history, and inevitable realities to come. It’s not only the immediate things that are relevant, it’s God who determines what is relevant, the God who was and is and is to come.

The things that are seen are secular, they are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

We have been given amazing things, we live during the most blessed time in history, and yet our identity is not in the now, but in Christ. We have died with Him, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, we will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:3-4). For now, we see the world and do our work in His light (John 8:12).

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The End of Many Books

Angels in the Architecture

Published in 1998, I wish I had read it that long ago. Not that I would have appreciated, or even accepted, its message back then, but if I had been teachable I might have avoided a lot of dualistic confusion and battled for a lot better things. My point here is, don’t let my mistake be yours. Get a copy, read it soon. See how the medieval weltanschauung (not that they called it that) has much for our Kuyperian (not that they called it that) living and joy. Without agreeing with every jot and tittle, this book points toward a love of truth and feasting and poetry, of submission and sphere sovereignty and the silliness of so much so-called science, of earth and work and relationships teeming with beauty and breath and blessing.

4 of 5 stars

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The End of Many Books

Gospel Culture

This book was gifted to me by a friend, and I’m thankful for it (and him). It’s brief, but edifying, especially as it makes a biblical case against dualism, and especially a so-thought virtuous dualism under the more formal name of Two Kingdoms theology. Boot demonstrates that the material and temporal are not enemies to the Christian, nor must we try to escape (since God called His creation good). Sin is our enemy. Christ came to conquer sin, and as His people live in Him they live differently with their stuff and in time.

4 of 5 stars

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The End of Many Books

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution

If you know anyone who lives in the sexually immoral morass that is 2021, have them read this book. Read it for yourself, too. I recommend letting these ideas bounce around in your mental hopper, especially if you’re a pastor or teacher.

It is, however, highly repetitive. It is also proffered as a “surprise” that our cultural problems go back a couple centuries, as compared maybe with the 1960s. Trueman does a good job of demonstrating that our problems do go back that far, but it’s more surprising that he doesn’t mention the wayback of Genesis 6, or Genesis 18, or Romans 1. The absence of connection with Romans stands out because he recommends that the current church learn from the 2nd century church.

More than anything, I do not understand why Trueman never mentions the gospel. Like, no joke, there is not even one reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no mention of the cross, either for sake of showing the judgment sinners deserve or showing the forgiveness that Christ offers to any who repent and believe. I know that Trueman knows the true, and only, solution, to sexual immorality, but he does not point to it anywhere in this book. He must have his reason(s), but without Jesus we are without hope.

Again, I appreciate how well Trueman shows the desperate and degenerating nature of a culture without transcendent truth, and how in fact that sort of culture, our culture, is more of an anticulture. But ironically there is a significant lack of the transcendent God’s Word in this book, both in terms of Bible and the Son.

4 of 5 stars

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The End of Many Books

The Imaginative World of the Reformation

by Peter Matheson

I finished this book a couple years ago but it’s been in my “currently reading” list since then. No longer! I read it in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, and I figured I’d post a review today in preparation for Reformation Day tomorrow.

Matheson argues:

“The Reformation…was more a song or a symphony than a system, more lyric than lecture, more a leap of the imagination than one of those social restructurings we are so heartily sick of today. It certainly produced systems, lectures and structures as well, but they were secondary.” (loc. 215)

This is not a disparaging word against the solas, it’s just that justification by faith alone belonged with abundant life not only clarified doctrines, let alone liberation from self-serving religious authorities. The Reformation gave Protestants freedom to read God’s Word, freedom to share communion, freedom from traditionalism and from dualism. It was a freedom to imagine (not outside reality but new concepts of reality) that daily work and survival meant something to God and was a good given by God.

“the Reformation can be seen as an infinitely varied, but coherent and extended, metaphor for the bountifulness of God’s grace.” (loc. 99)

Should you read this? You should put it in your queue if you’ve already read a lot of Luther and Calvin first, and if you’re interested to see how preaching was (actually only) a part of how nations were turned upside down.

4 of 5 stars

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Every Thumb's Width

Capitulators, Warriors, and Reconcilers

The Evangelical Reconcilers

This is an interesting take on three approaches that Christians take to culture, in particular, to Western society. I haven’t spent much time among self-identified capitulators, nor for that matter among the warriors. I have spent most of my life among the reconcilers, as defined by this article, though those most of those guys would not identify themselves as such. I think the reason for that is because many of these orthodox Evangelicals are fighting, and their claim is not untrue. They are fighting the spiritual war, at least as they understand it and for which there is a kind of biblical defense (i.e., Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). They are fighting against capitulators in the church (those who “affirm with their generous overlords the unworthiness of conservative evangelicals to be tolerated”), and they are fighting against sin in souls by proclaiming the cross. Calling them reconcilers is not quite accurate, though I can see from Wolfe’s perspective how he tags them as such.

The whole article is worth your time to read, and it provides an opportunity to consider what sphere(s) a faithful disciple of Christ should seek (and expect?) to influence. It’s connected to our Kuyperian-sized blind spot. I do agree that our goal should not be to make ourselves “harmless to the regime.” Jesus is Lord.