Thursday, December 29, 2011

Favorite Books I read in 2011

As usual, my favorite books of 2011 are comprised of books not published this year. Of the forty plus books I read this year, I only read two (Keller's King's Cross and Rob Bell's Love Wins) that were published in 2011. This turned out to be the year for reading most of CS Lewis's fiction, which makes up half of my list. At the beginning of the year, I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia series for the first time and I just recently finished reading his space trilogy (#6, 7, and 8 on the list). There is a reason that he my favorite writer of all time.

Here's the list:

1. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
2. Getting Involved With God, Ellen Davis
3. Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis
4. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
5. Candide, Voltaire
6. That Hideous Strength, CS Lewis
7. Out of the Silent Planet, CS Lewis
8. Perelandra, CS Lewis
9. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, CS Lewis
10. Surprised By Hope, NT Wright

Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Albums of 2011

I didn't get a chance to listen to as many albums as I usually do this year, so the list is shorter and not as comprehensive. Out of the albums I did hear, these are my top 5:

1. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Favorite tracks = Holocene, Perth

2. Vice Verses, Switchfoot
Favorite Tracks = The War Inside, Souvenirs

3. Barton Hollow, Civil Wars
Favorite Tracks = 20 Years, Poison & Wine

4. Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes
Favorite Tracks = Helplessness Blues, Grown Ocean

5. King of Limbs, Radiohead
Favorite Tracks = Lotus Flower, Bloom

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Job teaches us about wrestling with God

Once again, I want to turn to Ellen Davis as she provides some great wisdom from her book Getting Involved With God. This time she is looking at the book of Job and what it teaches us about suffering and wrestling with God through it.

She explains how it is helpful for Christians to confront God with the pain we are in, even though it might initially feel wrong:
“We are not accustomed to blaming God, and so when we find ourselves doing so, we feel guilty and religiously confused. The ‘solution,’ for some, is to cover our confusion about God with a false piety. Others, bolder perhaps, will give up on God altogether. But the witness of the book of Job is that rage and even blame directed at God are valid moments in the life of faith…[and] we may stay in that ‘moment’ for a long time.”
Looking at the closing chapters, where God speaks to Job, Davis goes on to point out:
“Job is convinced that his moral innocence should have warded off disaster, because he believes that the world is a manageable place run by a demanding but nonetheless predictable God who owes the righteous a good time. But when God finally speaks and shows Job what, from a divine perspective, is so fascinating about the created order, it turns out to have nothing at all to do with human moral standards.


“What God says, in effect, is this: ‘Look away from yourself, job; look around you. For a moment see the world with my eyes, in all its intricacy and wild beauty’…God calls this man of integrity to take his place in a ravishing but dangerous world where only those who relinquish their personal expectations can live in peace. The price of peace is the surrender of our personal expectations.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Doug Wilson on the Death of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, well known for his atheism, died last night at the age of 62, after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was an established and proficient writer, probably most famous for his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. He was not one who shied away from controversy and debate.

A few years back, he went on a debate tour with theologian Doug Wilson. A excellent documentary end up being made showcasing these debates called Collision (You can watch the first 13 minutes of it here).

Doug Wilson has written a great article in Christianity Today on the death of Christopher Hitchens. The whole thing is worth reading, but I wanted to quote the final few paragraphs below. It shows how Hitchens was approaching death and also says something about how Christians should hope for redemption for others, even those who devoted their lives to denying God's existence. We should always feel "There but by the grace of God go I"...
Christopher knew that faithful Christians believe that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the Judgment. He knew that we believe what Jesus taught about the reality of damnation. He also knew that we believe—for I told him—that in this life, the door of repentance is always open. A wise Puritan once noted what we learn from the last-minute conversion of the thief on the cross—one, that no one might despair, but only one, that no one might presume. We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).

We also know that Christopher was worried about this, and was afraid of letting down the infidel team. In a number of interviews during the course of his cancer treatments, he discussed the prospect of a "death bed" conversion, and it was clear that he was concerned about the prospect. But, he assured interviewers, if anything like that ever happened, we should all be certain that the cancer or the chemo or something had gotten to his brain. If he confessed faith, then he, the Christopher Hitchens that we all knew, should be counted as already dead...

This is interesting, not so much because of what it says about what he did or did not do as death approached him, and as he at the same time approached death. It is interesting because, when he gave these interviews, he was manifestly in his right mind, and the thought had clearly occurred to him that he might not feel in just a few months the way he did at present. The subject came up repeatedly, and was plainly a concern to him. Christopher Hitchens was baptized in his infancy, and his name means "Christ-bearer." This created an enormous burden that he tried to shake off his entire life. No creature can ever succeed in doing this. But sometimes, in the kindness of God, such failures can have a gracious twist at the end. We therefore commend Christopher to the Judge of the whole earth, who will certainly do right. Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949-2011). R.I.P.