Archive for the ‘ Literature ’ Category

On Reading a Good Book I Didn’t Like

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “Classics are books which people praise and don’t read.”  As there are about a million variations of this sentiment floating around the internet, I’ve decided not to pick a fight with his definition of a classic.  Instead, I’ve been contemplating the idea of what makes a book good – a far more subjective and tenuous concept. Continue reading


Love Wins: Preliminary Thoughts

I have been working my way through Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins, over the course of the last few days. The book has sparked an insane amount of controversy in the blogging world, and it seems that everyone with a blog has something to say about it. I haven’t finished the book yet, and so cannot comment on the book as a whole. Instead, I intend to offer some initial impressions and a few comments on the debate.
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Fernando Reads Calvin: Book I, Chapter 2

What it is to Know God. — Tendency of this Knowledge.

In the second chapter of his work, Calvin clarifies a bit of what he said in the first chapter, and building on it. In some ways it complicates the issue, at least for my purposes here. Calvin and I — indeed, any two humans — have different frameworks in mind, and we’re both bringing personal baggage to this discussion.* It’s one thing when Calvin says, “Knowledge of God increases knowledge of ourselves, and vice versa” and I say “Jean, I completely agree.” But now Calvin says “And what I mean by knowledge is…”, and it turns out I break with him.

What we have here, then, is the first break between the Wesleyan (or at least, this Wesleyan) and Calvin’s thought. It’s subtle maybe, and perhaps not what some might expect at casual first glance. But it’s emblematic of the larger issues, as I will try to show.

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Firm Opinions and Strong Decisions

Today, I wanted to share something from G. K. Chesterton’s Heretics. In our pursuit of objectivity, we examine the facts and try to see what jumps out of them without our attempt to interpret them; in our pursuit of objectivity, we survey data to see what unbiased analysis proves. As we try to be open-minded, we will find our minds closing when we make conclusions. Continue reading

Fernando Reads Calvin: Book I, Chapter 1

Of the Knowledge of God the Creator: The Knowledge of God and of Ourselves Mutually Connected


I’m going to go out on a limb here — I don’t think there’s a single line in Chapter 1 of Calvin’s work I disagree with. If anything, it’s far more true than I realized when I first read it years ago. Part of that may be due to a changed position: I first read Calvin as a seeker, not sure which branch of Christianity I belonged in and, in that position, the new (and often confusing) options Calvin brought that I had never considered were bewildering and hard. In the years since, however, I like to think I’m a modicum wiser: I have lived more, sinned more, confessed more, and been forgiven for more. I am home in the Anglican church, and so I have a ground to stand on as I read. And, I find Calvin’s opening chapter not only acceptable, but tested and proven. Continue reading

A Wesleyan Reads Calvin: a Preface

Once upon a time there were two were Christians, Anabelle and Bart. Anabelle and Bart both loved Jesus very much, and had ever since they were children. However, both were from very different traditions of Christianity.

Anabelle had been taught in a paradigm some call “Calvinism.” She had been told that God had elected all Christians before the world began, and that Christ had died for the elect. The salvation of the elect was assured and could not be lost, but only God knew who the elect were. There were some who claimed to be Christians, but continued living lives of sin. Those “Christians” were not part of the elect — they were either lying, or had deceived themselves.

Anabelle served God as best as she could, but of course, she often sinned… leaving her with almost unbearable guilt. Continue reading

Tunisia, Egypt, and 1,001 Arabian Nights: A Book Recommendation

There is a lot of change going on in the Middle East at the moment. Protests in Tunisia led to the resignation of that country’s leader, while continued protests in Egypt led to the recent resignation of Hosni Mubarak, that country’s former president of thirty years. One worry is that Islamic fundamentalist groups will manipulate elections to gain power so that they can impose Sharia law. Whether the Muslim Brotherhood‘s influence in Egypt is something to fear I will not debate here, but I will argue that increasing understanding is always important. Continue reading

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