Seven things I appreciated about Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble:
The writing is lucid and compelling
Terrific illustrations are peppered throughout
Teases out some practical implications from the writings of Charles Taylor
Focuses on major issues all Christians should agree upon
Good unpacking of how lethal distraction and the never-ending choices are in the modern era
Noble has a gracious, but candid style…not an easy combo!
Noble does not just complain, but offers some practical suggestions for us to adopt
Quote to consider: “The challenge for Christians in our time is to speak of the gospel in a way that unsettles listeners, that conveys the transcendence of God, that provokes contemplation and reflection, and that reveals the stark givenness of reality.”
From one of my favorite historians:
When our sons were younger we spent some time in the North Caroloina home of legendary Dickens scholar, Elliot Engel. Here is a recent interview with Elliot on The Christmas Carol.
From Alan Jacobs:
As our cultural elites lose even the most elementary biblical literacy, this is going to happen more and more often: reading the Bible-saturated literature of the past and missing, not secondary and trivial illusions, but the entire point of stories and novels and plays and poems, and for that matter paintings and sculptures and musical compositions. The artistic past of the West will become incomprehensible, but — and this is the scary thing — no one will know that they’re misreading. Gross errors will be passed down from teacher to student, from scholar to reader, and it is difficult to imagine circumstances arising in which they can be corrected.
Just watched this amazing man on 60 Minutes. Found his number online. Gave him a call. I wanted to know a piece of literature he found compelling. His answer: Shakespeare’s King Lear.
There are two men who have taught me the most about the proper ways to integrate theology and literature: Ralph Wood and Roger Lundin. I have interviewed Ralph before, and Lord willing shall be going back to Baylor for another interview. I corresponded with Roger. I was planning on meeting with Roger during my lecture at Wheaton, but Roger unexpectedly died a few days prior to my talk. Jeremy Begbie of Duke collaborated with Roger. Here is part of Begbie’s tribute:
He cared about words – or better put, he cared for people through words: his students, colleagues and readers. That was why he labored so hard to find the right ones. That was why – with that memorable sidelong glance – he paused so often in conversation. That is why he spent hours and hours revising and re-editing his essays and books. In all the years I knew Roger I can honestly say I never remember him using words carelessly. He knew that careless words could hurt, maim and wound. In a culture deluged with half-thought out words, sloppy, hollowed-out language, he saw it as his calling to hone words full of care for others, full of the winsome generosity of God. And in the corridors of the academy, few things are needed more today. We academics revel in large words – to impress, to intimidate. He inspired us to use words with largesse. And that is a legacy beyond measure.
The rest is here: http://www.transpositions.co.uk/tribute-to-professor-roger-lundin/
From Ayn Rand: “Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire, he’d find the answer. He’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He’s not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion—prestige.”
It is interesting to see this in light of my present study of Jeremiah. Jeremiah makes it clear that there are really only two options: follow God or follow idols. If you do the latter, then shame will be your forever bedfellow.
So Rand is correct that there are two options: caring what other folks think or not. Her “how not to care about other people’s view of you” is very different than the Bible’s, but she gets that there is a true dichotomy.
This is the fourth book I’ve read by Andrew Delbanco. He never disappoints with his keen insights into literature, culture, and American history.
I am very interested in the first half of nineteenth century America. As a Christian, there are many significant movements of thought swirling which make it endlessly fascinating and challenging.
Delbanco’s Melville has the author’s characteristic brilliance: great writing coupled with brilliant insights. For me, one of the most poignant things is seeing how well Delbanco captures the tormented genius of Melville along with showcasing the compassion of his dear friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Christian ministers could learn a lot about compassion and being patient with serial doubters like Melville.
I have two seminary degrees and would love to see books like this as required reading in the curriculum.