Why is so much Christian fiction bad?
Back in the June 30, 2007 issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky “interviewed” the long-departed novelist Flannery O’Connor by asking her questions he then answered with excerpts from O’Connor’s book Mystery and Manners. Most interesting was O’Connor’s thoughts on Christian fiction:
OLASKY: Why do you call lots of religious novels “sorry”?
O’CONNOR: The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns… by beginning with Christian principles and finding the life that will illustrate them…. The result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous.
The 3 ways Hollywood gets truth wrong
While reviewing 2011’s Water for Elephants, WorldNetDaily.com’s Drew Zahn exposed the flaw underlying most Hollywood fare.
Zahn noted that for “more than a century now four very distinct worldviews have been competing to answer one critical question: ‘What is truth, and how can you know it?’” The four worldviews include the one right one, and three that deny God is the source of all truth. From first to worst they are:
- Truth is from God: “Reality is revealed by Divine Truth (John 14:6)” so it is through God’s Word that we may know Truth
- Truth is defined by our reason: “The idea that God would define truth was eventually challenged by another notion, that man – in all his scientific, progressive wisdom – could determine truth on his own. This gave rise to the second competitor, rationalism, which argues that what we reason to be true must be true.”
- Truth is what you feel: “Yet a third worldview agreed that man defines truth, but insists it is a matter of the heart, not the mind. Sometimes called romanticism, this worldview argues what we feel to be true is true.”
- There is no truth: Finally, we have the notion of Relativism – that there is no truth at all
Zahn notes that while the various worldviews have been debated among philosophers and theologians, “average Joes” all subscribe to the same one:
“When push comes to shove, most folks eventually do what… feels right (romanticism). What we really, really want to be true, we usually insist is true, then stretch all bounds of reason and theology to prove it is true. In the end, romanticism usually wins.”
In Water for Elephants this romanticism is evident in the central plot, when a young man connects with an older married woman, and the audience is expected to cheer this illicit affair because, well, the two of them just seem so right for each other! But if Water isn’t any better than typical Hollywood fare, one good thing can still be said about this film: it spawned Zahn’s insightful review!
In need of laughing gas
I haven’t been to a dentist in a couple of decades. This joke had me rethinking that decision.
Dentist: It’s a very good thing you came to see me. You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen – the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen!
Patient: I can hear you Doc, no need to repeat it!
Dentist: I didn’t – that was an echo!
SOURCE: A joke a day keeps the doctor away by Bob Phillips
A musical Matthew 7:2 moment…
As much as she tries not to, my daughter can’t help but smile every time I hit a false note. So this one spoke to me.
On our way home from church my young son asked me about Mr. Smith, a man sitting behind us during the service: “He can’t sing very well, can he?” It was true, but I didn’t want my son critiquing everyone’s singing so I explained to him: “Son, Mr. Smith sings from his heart, and that’s what makes it good.”
Several days later my son and I were singing along to the car radio, when he stopped, turned to me, and said: “Daddy, you sing from your heart, don’t you?”
SOURCE: Adapted from a joke making its way around the Internet
Can’t do better than the Bible…
In the last couple of decades atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have hit the top of the bestsellers list with their attacks on the existence of God. These prominent atheists were hoping to make doubters of us all.
But Philip Yancey has a ready answer. Yancey may be staunchly Arminian, but he’s struggled with doubt for years and has a couple of insights worth sharing. He offers doubting Christians this bit of advice: “Learn to question your doubts just as much as you question your faith.” After all, atheists and the doubts they raise and the arguments they make are nothing new. Yancey sees their disciples on every campus he visits, but they don’t bother him.
“When I speak on college campuses I like to choose the most skeptical, the most rebellious people – the kids who are reading newspapers instead of listening – and speak to them. And I tell them this, ‘I challenge you to find a single argument against God from the great atheists – David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, people like that – that is not already included in the Bible!… I can find every argument – in the book of Job for example – that these great philosophers have used against God.”
SOURCE: When God is hiding: A candid conversation with best-selling author Philip Yancey
Red and yellow, black and white…
Creationist Ken Ham has a solution to the problem of racism. All we have to do is make people understand their true origins:
“[The Bible] says all people are descendants of one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. That means there’s only one race of people… I remember after talking on this once a man told me, ‘When I filled out my census form and it said, “What race are you?” I wrote down “Adam’s.”’”
SOURCE: DVD entitled Genesis: The Key to Reclaiming the Culture
Curing the postmodern disease
During the two years that RC Sproul’s son taught university freshman English it became clear that many of his students had succumbed to the sickness of postmodernism. But Sproul Jr. was ready with a cure for their disease. In a 2006 speech he recounted how he administered the cure to one student:
“[A] student in the back blurted out, ‘There’s no such thing as objective truth.’ Just like that.
“And I said to him ‘you get an F in this class for this semester’ and then I went back to the conversation we were having. And, of course, in the corner of my eye, I could see his blood pressure rising, and his face getting redder and redder. And he’s holding his hand up.
“‘Yes what is it?’
“What do you think he said? ‘That’s not fair!’
“I strung him along a little longer. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You must have misunderstood me. I’m not giving you the F because anybody stupid enough to say there’s no such thing as objective truth obviously deserves an F. That’s not my thinking at all! You misunderstood. No, I’m just giving you the F because I want to.’ And then I went back to the rest of the class.
“He got madder. By now some of the students had figured it out. Some of them hadn’t, including that one. And he said, ‘I’ll tell the administration!’
“Finally I had pity on him and I said, ‘What are you going to tell them? Are you going to tell them I have failed to measure up to some external, objective, transcendent standard of what’s right and wrong? Because you told me there is no such thing!’
“‘Oh… okay. Well… I guess there is.’
“‘Welcome back to the human race,’ and then we went on with our business.”
Quote of the month
For your next road trip
If you’ve gotten tired of the old favorite “99 bottles,” or thought it weird to hear your kids singing endlessly about consuming vast sums of a beverage they aren’t even allowed to drink yet (some parents make it “99 bottles of pop” but that has its own problems), there is another song to drive you mad on your family expeditions. It’s also an oldie, first being sung way back in the 60’s on The Shari Lewis Show.
This is the song that never ends
Oh it goes on and on my friends
Some people started singing it
Not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue singing it forever just because
This is the song that never ends…