I am grateful for John Fea recommending this piece on the inimitable, Mary Beard:

A few sections I culled:

She is not afraid to take apart her own work: at that same conference in the early 1990s, she presented a paper that repudiated one of the scholarly articles that had helped make her name a decade earlier, an influential study of Rome’s Vestal Virgins. It was an extremely unusual thing for a scholar to do. “She doesn’t let herself off – she’s not one of those scholars who is building an unassailable monument of work to leave behind her,” Woolf said. “She is quite happy to go back to her earlier self and say, ‘Nah.’”

When I asked her if she would countenance taking Isis’s ideology seriously, she said: “That’s the wrong question. There is no argument that I won’t take seriously. Thinking through how you look to your enemies is helpful. That doesn’t mean that your ideology is wrong and theirs is right, but maybe you have to recognise that they have one – and that it may be logically coherent. Which may be uncomfortable.”


My copy of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis…and my hand!

C.S. Lewis said that you have not really read a book unless you’ve reread it.

The older I get (almost sixty), the more I enjoy rereading books that have been most formative for me.  I won’t ever do what Spurgeon did in reading The Pilgrim’s Progress 100 times, but rereading is enriching, especially when it comes to great books.

I recently reread The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  It is a little over 120 pages, but I made over 100 marginal notes.  When I first read it, all I did was underline.  This second read through was more active.

Augustine said that attention is necessary for reading, and reading aids attention.  Being distracted is nothing new.  Augustine was writing about the distractions of life over 1500 years ago. 

Christians ought to be the best of readers, so how about reading, or rereading a good book?!


Esther Meek wrote a terrific book entitled, Learning to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People.  In it, she describes how finding a reliable mechanic helped her better understand how we use certain clues to determine whether God as known in Jesus Christ is who He claimed. 

More generally, how do we know what we know?  It is an important branch of philosophy called epistemology. Too many people, including plenty of Christians, don’t think about how and why they think the way they do.

I read Meek’s book several years back.  At the time, my experiences with mechanics was mixed.  Some were okay while others had clearly taken advantage of me.

Enter Joe Ruiz.  Joe’s shop is here in Austin.  Two friends I implicitly trust told me how Joe kept their cars running. Many times, Joe told Gil or Mike that they did not need all the other “recommended” stuff other mechanics had tried to sell them.  

My experience with Joe mimics what Gil and Mike have experienced.  Our car (with 210,000 miles) recently lurched forward from a stop. I figured the transmission was going since it is the original one.  I took it into Joe.  Joe told me the catalytic converter may be responsible.  He thoroughly checked out everything else including the transmission.  All looked good.  He recommended adding five gallons of high octane fuel which I did.

Our car is back running just fine.  Joe charged $107 for all the work.  I was dreading a large expense that would have been challenging on our budget.

Meek’s argument that we pick up clues to determine whether God is trustworthy is inspired by the great philosopher of science, Michael Polanyi.  I highly recommend it!

And if you live in the Austin area, I know a great car mechanic!


The following is not an uncommon occurrence for me while preparing to preach…

Not always, but there are certainly times of struggle either to make sense of the text and/or to make sure I really believe it.  As the Puritans liked to say, make sure to preach to yourself before you preach to others.  Really believing the Word of God is more difficult than determining its proper meaning.

Then God brings light, many times much light, and I can’t write fast enough.

It is one reason I don’t like to preach every week.  The process of preparation is best if I have months to mull and consider a text.  I want to stew on it for a long time.

I take many notes and ask many questions.  Commentaries come at the end to make sure I am in the ballpark of sound exegesis.

All this is one reason why I wish lead pastors preached less frequently.  It would be better for them and for the congregation.