Archive for March, 2010

Logic and the Universe

March 28th, 2010 5 comments

'Science joke. You should probably just move along.'

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

-from “The Sayings of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

This quote from Dune by Frank Herbert has always stuck with me. I think it resonates with truth; both the science lover and person of faith can connect to this statement, or at least should be able to. I am a very rational person, always looking for the logical argument, the reasoning behind everything. While things can often be explained away, it is undeniable that we can only explain away so much. Why do we love? Why am I so amazed by what is to be found in the universe? Why are relationships so important? Why is humor so great? Explain those things away until they have no meaning; why bother?

The reality is that God has made the universe rational so we can figure things out and learn more about this world, but what lies behind that construct is the illogic of our loving God. Evidence of that irrationality is all around us: Jesus came and died for us, God loves us even though we consistently turn our backs on him, a painting evokes an emotional response, music brightens your day, laughing for hours on end with close friends. Why would I want to explain those things away when they are beautiful in their own right.

Yes, the world is logical and I do have the need to study that logic and discover how things work and fit together. But I also embrace the reality that God is not constrained by logical frameworks. I should be happy about that. If the universe were purely logical, my failures as a person would have me doomed. Thank God for the illogic of grace: broken and redeemed.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense: it is late… and I don’t have to be logical. ;)

Categories: Daily Life, Religion Tags:

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

March 16th, 2010 No comments

I arise today!

Back when I was going to Regent, one of the hymns that we would often sing during chapel services was a portion of St. Patrick’s breastplate. I have always found it very moving. Here is the portion that always struck a chord with me:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Now, there are a number of versions of this Old Irish hymn in English (check here, here, here, here, and here), but they all get the same message across: Christ is the primary. In all we do. Everything.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Categories: Religion Tags:

Written Influences on my Faith

March 5th, 2010 No comments

Recently, Cori asked about books that have influenced our journey of the Christian faith. I thought that was a great question and a difficult one to answer. I thought I would reproduce my response here:

This is a daunting task: how to narrow influential books down to a short list? These are a few that I have found profound and insightful. There are plenty more where this came from, but these jumped out at me.

  1. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson I think this is a MUST read for every Christian. Peterson uses the Psalms of Ascents as a framework for talking about the Christian Life. Peterson is the one who wrote the Bible paraphrase The Message and is considered a spiritual theologian.
  2. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee a wonderful discussion about the reality of Bible reading and how it should be approached. In my opinion, this is another MUST read for every Christian. Gordon Fee was part of both the NIV and TNIV translation committee, is the general editor for a pretty major commentary series, and has done a lot for textual criticism and exegeses.
  3. Silence by Shusaku Endo A difficult book about apostasy. Helped me continue thinking and realizing that there truly are difficult questions that we could wrestle with, black and white isnt always the order of the day. Shusaku Endo I know the least about, but his novel was quite thought provoking.
  4. The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter somewhat heavy, but provides wonderful context for the OT: how it all fits together. Robert Alter is a Hebrew scholar and has done a lot with the OT.
  5. Pretty much anything and everything by NT Wright, especially The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Pure brilliance. Wright is the Bishop of Durham and is an extremely prolific New Testament theologian (often with a focus on Pauline theology).
  6. Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen A beautiful look at the Christian spiritual life through the lens of Rembrandts painting of the same name (my favorite painting!). Nouwen was a Catholic priest who wrote numerous books on spirituality.
  7. Beyond the Cosmos by Hugh Ross one of my first explicitly Christian/Scientist perspective and the marriage of those worlds. Hugh Ross run as organization called Reasons to Believe that aims to bridge the gap between science and faith.

Wow, hard to narrow it to seven! Did I really leave out Lewis??

What about you? What writers have influenced your walk? Most of mine our non-fiction writers. That isn’t to say fiction can’t influence, it just wasn’t for mealthough there is still Lewis. I still don’t know how I left out works like Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce…

Categories: Literature, Religion, Theology Tags: