My Writings. My Thoughts.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book on the flight over to Ireland for my vacation in March. It is a very easy read, engaging and fun.
Mansfield tells a lot of interesting stories about the Guinness family and their devotion to God. He tells about the brewers, the bankers, and the preachers–and he is careful to show that they weren’t one group of Guinnesses that loved God while the others loved beer or money; all three branches served God in one way or another and at one time or another.
Reading the book reminded me why I love Guinness and gave me more reasons to love it. It also gave me a context for the city of Dublin–which city I would be in when my flight landed–that made my vacation all the more interesting.
I think I would have enjoyed it just as much all the same, but it was neat to follow the reading of this book with a trip through Ireland. Mansfield also added to the interest of the book by comparing the Guinness family and its practices to our own business culture today, with some nice takeaways.
That being said, the Guinness family is a family worth loving and admiring, as the book makes very clear.
Review: The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is absolutely outstanding.
It is written in the vein of Wendell Berry, but is the true story of Ruthie Leming and her brother, the author, Rod Dreher. This is an oversimplification of the story, but an easy boil down of it is that Rod is the young man who goes off into the world looking for adventure and experiences, while Ruthie is the young girl who stays home to continue in the bonds of community and family. Rod thinks he’s got it figured out and Ruthie thinks she does. Rod learns what he is missing when he sees the community spring into action, to fulfill love for neighbor and bearing one another’s burdens, when Ruthie is diagnosed with cancer.
This book really did a number on me. In a good way. It is sad, but not depressing sad. It is inspirationally sad. It has caused me to reconsider the choices I’ve made and am making in my own life. What will the community look like that rises to help me should I become ill? How will my children react to hardship in their community, in their family? What will they recognize as their community? Their (extended) family?
This may be the most important book I’ve read in the last year or more. A must read.
This is the kind of analogy to education we need to be contemplating:
Farming depends upon slow processes, many of which take years to come about. The best farmers act out of a respect for this slowness and love for the third and fourth generations to come. Their views repudiate the modern notion of “fast” or “instant” gratification.
The best teacher knows that their efforts will outlive them. A lesson well taught and well caught continues into the grandchildren of the student. Such means that few teachers “see” the fruit of their work. They depend and love this very reality. This repudiates the current fad of immediate “assessment” and measurement of desired outcomes.
Many are they who will argue that Hebrews 10:26-31 is not a passage teaching apostasy. They believe in OSAS (once saved always saved), the eternal security of the believer, and the perseverance of the saints. They will argue that the author is either a) warning those who aren’t true believers, or b) issuing a warning that God will use as a means to perseverance for the saints. The favorite verse used to prove such a view is Hebrews 10:39, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
What intrigues me is the lengths we will go to to make our pre-existing paradigm work. The author is addressing Jewish Christians, he refers to them as those who have “received the knowledge of the truth” (v. 26) and were “sanctified” (v. 29).
It seems to me that they are Christians who can fall away. It seems to me that the author is not pitting genuine Christians against ingenuous Christians, but those “who shrink back” against those who “have faith and preserve their souls” (v. 39). In other words, he is pitting those genuine Christians who will fall away against those who will persevere.
To counter by saying that he is addressing believers and he is giving them a warning that God will use as a means for their perseverance–in other words, he is warning them against something that can’t happen, but for the sake of it encouraging them to persevere, which they will do anyway–is as silly as a traveler coming across a “Beware of Cliff” sign in Kansas. This is the analogy Douglas Wilson uses, and it is a poignant one.
The statement the author makes in verse 39 is not to undermine his entire argument made in verses 26-31, but to encourage them in the hope that they are in fact faithful believers who preserve their souls. And how do we do this? By looking to Jesus, not by morbid introspection, not by worrying about whether we are elect or not, not by questioning our salvation, but by trusting Jesus.
Now that I’m blogging at two separate locations, I thought I’d do so with some degree of intentionality. Here, at mattbian.co, I will continue to blog and the content of the blog will be mostly personal, theological, educational, and literary. At Kuyperian Commentary, I will post primarily political and some theological blogging.
As a nota bene, if you are friends with me on Facebook, you will notice a lot of Kuyperian Commentary blog posts coming across my feed. At KC, I am part of a team of bloggers who contribute sometimes 2-3 posts a day. My contribution is closer to one a week. All posts are shared through my feed, but not all posts are authored by me. You will need to read the post to see who the author is, a good idea anyway since they are all so good.
For an example of the type of posts published at Kuyperian Commentary, read my most recent article, “Gay Marriage and Christian Values.”
You should also consider liking the Kuyperian Commentary Facebook page.
I love it when a book makes me feel dumb. Well, kind of. I mean that I love it when a book introduces me to a concept that is new to me–making me feel “dumb”–but when it introduces it in a way that when I am finished I feel less “dumb.”
I’m reading one of those right now: Dorothy Sayers’ The Mind of the Maker. In her chapter titled, “Idea, Energy, Power”, she makes a point about writing that draws from the theological concept of the Trinity. The “Idea” that an author has is like God the Father. It is an Idea that has exists in completeness, beginning and end and everything in between, in the mind of the author. The “Energy” is the author’s writing the Idea out. The Idea begets the Energy that is the author’s act of writing, and is therefore akin to God the Son. The author makes no distinction between the two because, in the author’s mind, the Idea can only be expressed a particular way. Thus, the author cannot choose to make the text say something other than what the Idea allows it to say. The “Power” is the completed work, the book, that is read and experienced by a community of readers. It is God the Spirit. The Spirit proceeds from the Father in the same way the book proceeds from the idea in the author’s head. I guess one could say (although I’m not sure Sayers takes it this far) that the book proceeds from the idea, but does so through the writing, or energy.
While the reader might think the book he is holding is the book, to the author’s mind the book was already a book as he was writing it by virtue of it existing in completeness in his mind. He always knew that it would look like what it does, even if he couldn’t have said it until he said it–through the “Energy” of writing.
This makes me feel dumb, but less dumb. I need to finish reading the whole chapter and the whole book. Sayers is onto something here, delving into the Mind of the Maker. I’m just not sure what yet.