Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Seeking the Secret Place - The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis 

I’ve been reading a lot from and about C. S. Lewis this year.  I think Alister McGrath’s recent excellent biography C. S. Lewis - A Life and coming across two small out-of-print books by Lewis in Oxford may have prompted this direction.  In any case, when I heard of this book, Seeking the Secret Place, about his spiritual formation, about the influences on his growth as a Christian, I knew I had to read it as well.  (So, yes, the book has been out for ten years, but it is new to me.)

Not only was I not disappointed, Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis exceeded my expectations. Lyle Dorsett backs his book with extensive research.  As Director of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, he had unusual opportunity to travel, interview, and dig into a treasure trove of primary sources.  He particularly made use of Lewis’ correspondence.

The result is a very readable book that covers some lesser known aspects of C. S. Lewis' personal life and spiritual growth.  Lewis’ relationship with Father Walter Frederick Adams of the Cowley Fathers is an important focus as is Lewis’ faithfulness in his sacrificial commitment to respond thoughtfully to letters, even to fan mail and to those asking a bit much of his time and effort.

I must emphasize the book is not only of historic interest, although it certainly is that.  It can be very helpful to those seeking to grow as Christians themselves. I personally find both the guidance given to Lewis and the guidance he gave to others very instructive and edifying.  Further, I am already using excerpts from Seeking the Secret Place in teaching others.

So Seeking the Secret Place is a book to read both by those interested in the life and spiritual growth of C. S. Lewis and those concerned about their own spiritual formation.  If one finds oneself in both categories, it is then a must-read indeed.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Idaho Ministers Threatened With Jail For Not Performing Gay Weddings 

As Maetenloch over at Ace of Spaces puts it:

Don't worry - allowing gay marriage will never mean that pastors must perform gay marriages or face prison. Oh wait never mind.

Two Idaho ministers have been told by the City of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho that they must perform gay “weddings” in their marriage chapel or face jail and/or ruinous fines, up to $1000 per day.

Strange, we were told that warnings about attacks on religious freedom were scare tactics.  Now that the warnings are coming true, we are told our warnings are whining.  And we were told the movement toward gay rights and same-sex “marriage” was all about “tolerance.”

We were told lies.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

You might be a Texan author if… you release your novel at a GUN SHOW! 

You might be browsing to this post wondering who would be so Texan – or so crazy – as to release their novel at a gun show.  And the answer is . . . yours truly.

I will hold the release event for my novel Pilot Point at a table at the Corpus Christi Al Amin Shiners Gun Show on Saturday, November 8th.  It is located at 2001 Suntide Road, just off I-37 in Corpus.  Look for the building in the back.  Doors open at 9am, and I will try to be there all day.

It is a fun gun show, by the way, with a lot more than guns for sale.  I’ve visited it and lightened my wallet there several times.

Why am I releasing Pilot Point at a gun show?  One reason is I want to take my novel to people who I think would like it.  With Pilot Point being a very Texan novel and gun show attendees (like me) being very Texan, I think it a good match.  And I think this a better and more interesting release than a traditional book signing at a bookstore.  I intend to do those, too, but I thought a gun show would be much better place to release Pilot Point with a bang. (Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.)

Besides, it’s a GUN SHOW!

Now if only there was a gun show held at an Anglican church.  Remember that Pilot Point has a strong Anglican flavor, too.  Oh, well.

By the way, a reminder that Pilot Point is already available in print and Kindle form.  (Yes, book releases, like store “Grand Openings”, sometimes occur after a book is available.) I know not everyone can make it to South Texas for this event. ;)

I will say more between now and November 8th, so stay tuned!  And don’t forget to “like” Pilot Point on Facebook.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Wisdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch 

Tonight is the Eve of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  He was the Bishop of Antioch in the early 2nd Century and, during an intense persecution of Christians in that city, was condemned to death by wild beasts, to be executed at Rome.

And we do not know much else about him except from a number of letters he wrote to churches as he was being taken to his sentence.

But what letters they are!  Ignatius’ heart and pugnaciously joyful personality shine through these letters.  Impending martyrdom did not discourage him but emboldened him.  He even looked forward with eagerness to “get to God” through his grisly martyrdom in the Coliseum.

And his letters are full of wisdom, particularly in how churches should relate to their leaders.  He also took aim at heresies, particularly Docetism.

I wish to conclude by quoting a statement of his about heresies in his Letter to the Trallians.

[Heretics] mingle Jesus Christ with their teachings just to gain your confidence under false pretenses.  It is as if they were giving a deadly poison mixed with honey and wine, with the result that the unsuspecting victim gladly accepts it and drinks down death with fatal pleasure.

And so it remains today.  The inventors of just about every false religion and heresy, even if mad and blind, still realize that the person of Jesus Christ is important and attractive.  Even in their delusions, they are compelled to answer his question, “Who do you say that I am?”  So they include in their falsehoods what I call a “token Jesus.”  They give lip service to Jesus to add attractiveness and legitimacy to their false religion.  But it is not the real Jesus Christ, but a supposed Jesus who is not the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  And, yes, the Jesus of “mainline” libchurchers is such a token Jesus.

Which St. Ignatius so well warned against some 1900 years ago.  God’s Holy Church does well to remember his courage and wisdom and to thank the Lord for his teaching and godly example.

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Houston Pink Shirt PR Lies 

Lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker and her fellow pink shirts discovered yesterday that Americans and Texans do not take kindly to government bullying of churches.  So the Mayor and her City Attorney backed away from their own actions, claiming they did not know the subpoenas were that broad, that wasn’t their intent, they had been misinterpreted, etc.

But there is one problem.  They lied.

“The intent, [City Attorney] Feldman said, was simply to get all communications between pastors about the signature gathering instructions, a key part of a lawsuit opponents have brought against the city. Critics filed suit after Feldman announced they had failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, claiming the city attorney illegally inserted himself in the signature verification process.”

That’s a blatant lie. The communications sought were not just about “signature gathering instructions.” They were, instead, an attempt to gather materials that would expose what the mayor and her cronies obviously consider to be the Neanderthal, homophobic attitudes of people who supported the petition. If that was not the case, why ask for stuff like “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity,” or “all documents and communications…[dealing with] the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity”?

Then there is this tweet from the Mayor’s keyboard itself on exactly 11:12pm Tuesday night, the night before yesterday’s backtracking.

In case she or her staff deletes it, it reads, "If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game.  Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?-A"

So on Tuesday night, Mayor Parker is defending going after sermons. But on Wednesday, she did not really know about going after sermons.  Uh, huh.

But I’m nit-picking.  Besides, it is nice to see the pink shirt bullies nervous for a change.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Houston: Pink Shirts in Power 

I am among those who have warned of the totalitarian aims of the gay activist crowd (not to be confused with gays who just want to live peaceably and mind their own business) and their allies.  Now Houston is providing a big “I told you so” moment.

Under lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, the City of Houston passed a so-called equal rights non-discrimination ordinance which quickly became infamous as the “bathroom bill” allowing the mentally ill and perverts to use bathrooms assigned to the opposite gender.  But the bill contained other, less publicized, problematic provisions, including some seen as endangering freedom of speech and religion.

Citizens petitioned to get the ordinance overturned or at least put up to a referendum, and their petitions got over 50,000 signatures when only 17,269 valid signatures were needed.  But the lesbian mayor and her city attorney threw out the petition anyway.

Once again, pink shirts and Leftists only like democracy when they get their way.

Opponents of the ordinance rightly sued the city to overturn their anti-democratic coup.  And now the city has doubled down – and justified fears about freedom of religion and speech – by demanding to see the contents of sermons from numerous pastors.

I have to admit when I first saw the story about sermons being subpoenaed, it was from a sensationalistic source, and it sounded over the top - which it is in its own Constitution-trashing way. I did not give it much credence and moved on.  But this is coming from a number of responsible sources now.

So although the pace of pink shirt attacks on freedom is surprising even me, I can still say, “I told you so.” Pink shirts and their lib/left allies have a totalitarian streak a mile wide, and the more they get power, as in Houston, the more their streak will show.  

For then they will slide off the mask of "tolerance" and inform you that getting their way and putting you under their thumb is so much more important than your trivial Constitutional rights.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pope Rowan? 

I will let Romish bloggers wade through the details.  But Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Synod on the Family has issued a statement - a Relatio is the Popish name for it – that among other problematic things recommends that gay orientation is to be “valued” in the church.

I am sorely tempted to insist my still randy heterosexual orientation be valued, too.  But I will instead point out a pattern I have noticed.  In this particular case, orthodox Roman Catholic bloggers have run to their keyboards to say this is not as bad as it looks at first glance.  They have said the Relatio is not a final statement. (True.) That there may be a misunderstanding due to translation.  That press reports are wrong.  That the statement does not reflect the views of all the bishops. (True.)

But this is not the first time I’ve seen this sort of episode.  Not only have we seen this under Francis, we saw it again and again under the Archbishopric of Rowan Williams, to wit:

1. Rowan/Francis or allies act or speak in a manner that undermines orthodoxy or the orthodox.

2. Orthodox who project their wishes onto Rowan/Francis and have a reservoir of good will toward him spin the act/statement into something not so bad.  Moreover, they may read something positive between the lines or behind the scenes. (And I recall that I did this myself in more hopeful days for the Anglican Communion. - ed.)

And that Rowan emitted a lot of fog and that Francis speaks freely and off-the-collar in unofficial settings certainly gives room for the orthodox to create positive interpretations and calming disclaimers.  Moreover, Rowan and Francis are likeable personalities.  Heck, I still like Rowan Williams in a way even as I deplore what he did to the Anglican Communion.  It is natural for Christians of good will to give them the benefit of the doubt and more.

Further neither Rowan nor Francis discourage(d) the orthodox in their wishful spin.  They may even make noises to encourage it.

3. Rinse.  Repeat.

4. But, alas, the passage of time and/or a more final act/statement dashes the hopes of the orthodox.  It turns out the leadership of Rowan/Francis really was as bad as feared with distressing consequences for the church.  And all that orthodox spin is exposed as wishful thinking indeed.

With Rowan, it got to this point by Lambeth 2008, if not before, when he invited all the consecrators of Gene Robinson and turned Lambeth into a useless indaba session rightly boycotted by over 200 bishops.

We have not yet gotten to such a point (i.e. 4.) with Francis.  Nor do I ever expect 200 bishops to boycott an invitation from him or any similar RC split.  But I see the same pattern with him and the orthodox as I saw with Rowan Williams.  And I do expect that one day Francis or a gathering under him will act or speak in such as way and with enough finality that it will gravely wound the orthodoxy and the orthodox of the Roman Catholic Church.

So forgive me if I call him Pope Rowan. 

I do honestly hope I am proven to be mistaken and unfair in so doing.  I pray Francis does not prove himself worthy to be called much worse.

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