Wonkish Bearings

I’ve begun to consolidate all my writings over at Wonkish Bearings. Won’t you come join me there?

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“The One”

Toward the end of my grandmother Louise Smith’s life, one of my relatives came across this poem written by my grandfather, Nevin, in the front of one of her books. I’m told he composed it shortly after they were married.

The One

There’s one who keeps my heart attune
Celestial lyres above,
And lulls my soul to paradise
Where life and all is love.

Whose every thought, a precious jewel
Inlaid in hours of gold,
That shine with glorious spectral rays
When nights are dark and cold.

It’s to this one, I give my love
Which ne’er can be expressed,
By words, or tones, or earthly means
Although I do my best.

Many years later—and with handwriting far less fluid than before—he finished the poem on the next page.

2/14/1967

How time has flown since first I wrote
Of love to you, dear wife,
We’ve lived for years mid toil and tears
And ups and downs of life.

God blessed our home with children dear
And love enough to give,
As each one magnifies your traits
And each for others live.

It’s for you dear I give my thanks
Which I cannot convey
To God for you dear wife of mine,
In little words I say.

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Belmont and the Lesbian Soccer Coach

Belmont’s making headlines again, but this time accolades aren’t raining down as usual. One could argue whether the school fired the soccer coach or the coach resigned on her own. I think we can all agree at this point that it’s just bickering over semantics: Lisa Howe was shown the door. She’s was a very successful soccer coach for Belmont. She is also a lesbian whose partner is expecting, and she saw fit to announce this to the students on her team. Belmont decided which of its responses to each of those two things was more important, and a chorus of moralists voices has risen up to denounce the university. Continue reading

Posted in Morality | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

“Why does it have to point to God?”

A friend of mine, Annie, posed a seemingly random question on Twitter tonight:

How does one find truth? What is truth? How can you define truth? What makes it “truth”? Thoughts…

Before we get to that, answer for yourself this question and remember it for the end: Is rape wrong? If you think it is, why?

Continue reading

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The Transformative Gospel

I’m re-posting here something I wrote last year on my previous blog.

The true Gospel is a unique, life-altering thing. It is not merely some philosophical angle to which a person might direct his attention for a time. Not at all a high moral standard to which we must strive for redemption; this is just a new, impossible law. No, the Gospel is the truth of a doomed humanity, a God who requires perfection, and the reconciliation of two such disparate conditions that this very perfection-requiring God Himself has given each of us. (I have only far too recently realized that the often used analogy of a drowning man is woefully insufficient here. We are not merely drowning. We are not each a man adrift to whom a life preserver must be thrown. In this imperfect analogy, it is much more like we are cold and dead on the sea floor, requiring something extraordinary enough to both retrieve us and bring us to life.) The “good news” of the Gospel is that God has come into time and space to take upon Himself, in our stead, the punishment that His very nature requires of us, justifying us in His presence.

What we see in the Gospel presented is the truth of God revealed, a man’s acceptance in faith of that now startlingly undeniable truth, and Christ’s free justification of that man. What follows is God’s transformative work of remaking that man with new desires, a new purpose, and a new mind. Can a person accept the Gospel and be left unchanged? I do not think this is possible. It is only since Christ yanked me from my depravity that I have experienced the inner struggle of desires and behavior that Paul refers to in Romans 7. I have never, since my conversion, not believed the Gospel; I have just spent my most painful hours actively ignoring it and wishing it weren’t so.

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Words Don’t Matter.

I’ve just got some quick thoughts on the value of words. (I hope everyone caught the irony in the title.)

The self-contradictory statement came to my mind this morning during Ray’s sermon, and it struck me as pretty indicative of the moral and intellectual relativism that’s become all too acceptable in the public square.

The comment I received from @dtmmedia on the post I wrote on Food, Inc. also came to mind, specifically that he didn’t seem all too concerned about the truth in what the filmmakers said as long as they were persuasive enough to get people to really buy into the film’s message. But if we’re looking for “the good” in things, that’s certainly not it. It’s certainly not the morally virtuous thing either, as we saw this morning in Proverbs:

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. – Proverbs 12:22

Proverbs even has some harsh words for the person who allows himself to be taken in by such deceit because he is not a discerning listener.

An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. – Proverbs 17:4

Words matter a great deal, and what we mean to communicate by them matters a great deal as well. We should never let ourselves think that we can determine truth in an untruthful way.

Posted in Film, Scripture | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Meaning in a Certain Bumper Sticker

My old friend Dave has been blogging a lot recently on the absurdity of bumper stickers, namely that they’re essentially shouting beliefs at other drivers. He even calls them “a sound-byte shout on the back of a car.”

With his recurrent posts concerning bumper stickers on my mind, I finally remembered to look up a bumper sticker that I’d often seen around Nashville but never understood. It’s simple white on black with the lowercase letters “igbok.”

If you get close enough to the car in front of you, you can make out the smaller text: “it’s gonna be o.k.” I had always wondered what this meant, and to be honest, I took an immediately cyncical approach to the phrase. It’s gonna be o.k., eh? How on earth could you know that? Seems rather pollyanna if you ask me.

Anyway, I finally remembered to look up the meaning of this bumper sticker while reading Dave’s latest post on bumper stickers, and the meaning honestly floored me. According to the website, the creators chose this specific language because they believe it’s the universal language of hope. It’s the kind of thing you need to hear from a dear friend when tragedy hits your life. It’s comforting without getting into unnecessary specifics. And it’s true.

It’s true because everything works out in the end in this world, and it’s not just happenstance in this case that the phrase on the bumper sticker points to truth. It’s intentional on the part of the creators.

What if God — the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation — made this promise? What if He shouted and whispered “igbok” from Genesis to Revelation? He’s the only one who could make this promise — and keep it. If He did, then we have reason to hope.

We think He did.

God’s “o.k.” doesn’t mean that the cancer will be healed, the relationship fully restored, the physical pain or emotional ache will go away in this life. It means that because He has entered and overcome our brokenness…we can live this life with real hope — a hope that knows one day everything will be set right forever in the life to come.

They nailed it, and it gives me chills every time I read it. This bumper sticker is one of the few substantial things I’ve seen spread rapidly in pop culture that’s backed by truth. The irony is that this bumper sticker’s genius lies in what frustrates me—and presumably Dave—about most bumper stickers: its succinctness. Most bumper stickers, aside from the snarky ones, shout something intentionally controversial without the space available to explain it. But this bumper sticker doesn’t need the space because it doesn’t need to explain it. Just as the comforting pastor or friend doesn’t need to launch into a theological discourse on redemption in order to provide comfort, neither does this bumper sticker. And while it can never replace the comforting nature of a friend, it can provide thought-provoking comfort and the opportunity to springboard a conversation on where this world is going and what this whole chaotic life is all about. It points to the truth, and that’s the most important thing.

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Food, Inc., Environmentalists, and the Need for Purpose

We live in a fallen world with an undeniable, innate need for redemption. Everywhere around us we see stories of the hero who strove against insurmountable odds and left the world better than he found it. I honestly believe this, rather than malice, is responsible for the majority of garbage with which we’re brainwashed every day. In the last decade, hard-hitting documentaries tearing down preconceived notions have become all the rage. I’ll applaud almost any effort to check the status quo, but the challenger’s responsibility doesn’t end there. Truth, not an attack on the existing system, is of the utmost importance. For the consumer of information presented in such documentaries, it helps to follow the old adage You ought not believe everything you hear. Continue reading

Posted in Film, Propaganda | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The New Blog

So this is the new blog.

Back in 2004, I started writing on Blogger. Like most college kids, it initially performed as the repository for all the things about which I felt compelled to write (which was far too many). As I continued to write, though, I noticed that some of my work was being picked up and spread around. My website was getting some heavy traffic to a few very popular posts. I started to realize that my posts, thoughtfully crafted, could have a real, positive effect.

In more recent years I’ve become far more intentional in my writing. Still, there wasn’t a cohesive theme to the blog. The topics seemed to revolve more around current events in the news and my own life rather than matters with a greater lifespan. Any attempt to form a central theme was compounded by the baggage my long-running blog carried with it. It was time for a clean break.

I took some time away from writing to pare down a responsibility-laden schedule. I was trying to do too much. I wanted to be involved in every good thing that came along, but soon it was controlling me. It was time to slough off the demands of the volunteer positions. And after all, I’d much rather be great at a few things than lousy at (and attempting to engage in) everything. I wasn’t even reading anymore, and like time away from the gym, I could feel its effects in my whole life.

During my time off, I kept mulling over what this new blog would be called. Not only did I need to set up a new WordPress installation (with 3.0 arriving on the scene during my sabbatical), but I would need to choose a domain name to go with it. Plans of a blog network for liberty-minded writers were scrapped in favor of less heartburn, and with it went the domain name that I’d registered only months earlier. There was a lot of work to be done to get it to this point.

And now Pursuit of Redemption is the new blog’s name. It’s an allusion to not only to my own life—and the struggle I experience daily—but every Christian’s duty for this world. We are not merely to live idly in it. We are to strive daily for the redemption of this world through the salvific work of Christ on the cross. Yet it is not us, but Christ in us! (Can you even comprehend that?) How that should play out in our individual and corporate lives flips our milquetoast idea of Christianity on its head.

It doesn’t mean being good enough. It doesn’t mean connecting with your inner self. It doesn’t mean being part of the right, socially conscious political group, and it doesn’t mean properly demanding this country revert to “the good ole days.” It means intentionally living out the Gospel in every aspect of our daily lives: in our workplaces, our churches, our cities, our states, our political and activist groups, and our country. It means to love this world as Christ loved it—enough to die for it—and to seek its redemption. It’s a tall order.

I’m not sure what every post will bring. And while the name will imply a certain thread of redemption throughout, I can’t even promise a central thesis. Blogs must be somewhat disjointed by their very nature, and this blog is, in part, an exercise in my own understanding of the pursuit in which we are engaged. I can promise you this: each post will be written with the intent to be just as noteworthy in one year’s time. What I write here will not become mired in the day-to-day. It will not merely become a regurgitation of the news alongside my own commentary. I can’t imagine you have much need for that sort of bloviation.

Forgive me where I err, but do not hesitate to challenge me when it is required. Please contribute to the discussion. And join me in the battle to uphold truth in this world.

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