Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fantasy is Escapist

I ran across this quote of J.R.R. Tolkien on twitter tonight and of course it got me thinking:
"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?"
This quote is recorded in several writings of Tolkien including "The Tolkien Reader".  I find it sums up Tolkien's motivation behind all his sub-creation of Middle Earth rather well.  When people would ask, or even criticize him, about the lengthy hours and obsessive moments spent over his many works, this is how I would imagine him responding.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Potawatomi Trail

Trip Report

This hike was planned out several weeks in advanced.  When I learned that my wife and kids were going to be out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday it opened the door for exploration on my part.  I stumbled upon knowledge of the Potawatomi Trail awhile back when I was researching marathons throughout Michigan.  Turns out there is a trail marathon held on the Poto in April every year and this got me researching the trail itself.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Aim at Heaven

The following is a passage from C.S. Lewis' fantastic book "Mere Christianity".  Every time I read through this work this passage strikes me.  It was starting on page 160 and begins the chapter on "Hope."

Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more -- food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.

I understand Lewis to be looking at life much as St. Paul did as he wrote to the Philippian Christians "for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)"  It is common and even appropriate for Christian to yearn for the  days of sight in heaven.   We can take great comfort day after day knowing that that gift (eternal life) is a present reality for us.  Through baptism and faith we are owners already of it.  Yet, we don't yearn for heaven to the detriment of our joy in our days on this earth.  Rather, the joyful yearning for heaven is to add more to our days on earth. Or as Lewis put it, "aim at heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in.'"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Power of God, Who Wants it? Job? Gandalf?

This morning I was teaching Bible Study at my congregation on the book of Job.  What a study this has been!  If you want an in depth look at the human condition and human nature Job is the place to look.  During our study this morning we were reading about God's final conversation with Job in chapter 40.  In that chapter (as well as chapters 38-39) God is offering the final word on the discussions that have taken place throughout the book of Job.  God is especially addressing the moments where Job has seen fit to challenge God himself.  One such incident came in Job 30 where he says:
"God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. (Job 30:19-21)"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

For All Live to Him

In Luke 20:28, Jesus says "Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him."

I read through this verse several times as I began to ponder my sermon for November 10, where this verse from Luke 20 is part of the Gospel pericope.  I had initially seen this verse in the NIV which translates the last phrase like this "for to him all are alive".  This struck me with one of those eyes wide open moments.  From God's perspective, all are alive!  Jesus says this in the context of God's Words to Moses at the burning bush (see Exodus 3) where God is called "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."  Even though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were long dead (400+ years) in Moses' time, God was still their God for they were alive to Him at that very moment.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tolkien's Eucatastrophe and the Resurrection

As many of my close friends know, J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors.  I fell in love with his books back in the 90's as I prepared to head off to college.  The way he was able to "subcreate", as he would call it, a whole world as he does with Middle Earth is almost unparalleled.  My love for his writing grew deeper as I read through The Silmarillion several times and realized the deeper connection Tolkien's writings have with Christian theology.

Popular Posts