‘The Brothers K’ as a Constellation in the Wise Child’s Sky

Go ahead, give your kids telescopes.

Consider what happens to people whose night skies are spangled with constellations like The Master of Hestviken, or Moby-Dick, or The Brothers Karamazov. These people Pevear and Volokhonsky, Pen Awardare hard to fool. They are also hard to enlist in pursuit of the trivial and ephemeral. It is as if we had given them a powerful telescope atop a high mountain, and shown them how to use it, and directed their attention to the Orion nebula, and once they had learned to do so and to love the beauty they found there, expected them to look at light bulbs on a marquee. Or, if not a telescope, Continue reading

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Three-Sentence Takedown of The Handmaid’s Tale

With all the lethality and economy of a Kurosawa film, Anthony Esolen takes apart Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale:

Clichés are easy. So we bring up our children on clichés.

Everyone knows that men are beasts and that religious people are bigots. Run with those clichés and you have Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I might add that it’s a great book to assign to young people, if only for the imbecilic prose, in the poseur’s style of Thoughts Too Great for Complete Sentences.

Ten Ways To Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, 101-02

Mailbox Review: Humble Orthodoxy (3.5/5)

I received a copy of Joshua Harris’  Humble Orthodoxy gratis from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Here are my thoughts on the book.

Joshua Harris holding the truth high without putting people down mutlnomah waterbrookThere is presently a palpable feeling among many in the Church that we must choose between humility and orthodoxy. On the one hand, doctrinal knowledge does tend to puff up, especially within the more theologically rigorous traditions of Christianity; the more right we believe ourselves to be, the more unbearable we can become—especially in an age of online discourse where a degree of anonymity makes arrogance even easier. On the other hand, we live in an age of serious cultural sin in which many liberal voices (even some within the Church) defend unrighteous lifestyles by couching them in language of justice and “equality,” and we are rightly aware of our biblical duty to stand up and speak up for the Lord’s truth. Josh Harris reminds us that we don’t have to choose, and offers some helpful and incredibly timely encouragement toward a “humble orthodoxy.”

In an expansion of the popular final chapter of a previous book, Dug Down Deep, Harris deals with the pastoral problem of ungracious theology, correctly identifying roots both in sinful self-aggrandizing tendencies as well as righteous zeal for God’s law. At the heart of the gospel, he argues, the two are easily reconciled. We can be humble in the manner in which we defend and present orthodox dogma without sacrificing the integrity of God’s word. As Harris aptly observes, “Instead of looking down on the unorthodox, how can we NOT want to humbly lead them toward the same life-giving truth that has changed our lives?”

This little book not only preaches humility but also practices it, being just 81 pages long (9 of which are study guide and probably not Harris’ own work), and smaller than a piece of toast. In fact, that is my greatest complaint about the book: Continue reading

Mailbox Review: The Sin of Forgiveness

I received a copy of Edward F. Mrkvicka’s  The Sin of Forgiveness gratis from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Here are my thoughts on the book.

What is the “sin of forgiveness”? Specifically, it is Ed Mrkvicka’s name for granting forgiveness without encouraging the fruit of repentance in the forgiven. Generally, it is the author’s way of framing the more general issue of the objectivity of God’s Word. Though he doesn’t always deal with them directly, it is clear that the author has in mind social issues like homosexuality and takes aim at them with a more unilateral defense of Biblical objectivity. Edward F. Mrkvicka cover art crossfocused books

This book’s defining quality is almost certainly earnestness. Unfortunately, that earnestness usually comes at the expense of focus and organization. The author makes clear his righteous anger over the contempt many have shown for Scripture by twisting or ignoring it in order to justify sinful and unrepentant lifestyles: “There are few left willing to take the abuse they must endure if they speak God’s truth unabridged.” However his main project—comparing and contrasting righteous forgiveness with what he calls “secular” or “sinful” forgiveness—is hampered by a failure to clearly define the terms until late in the book. The early and middle stages of his argument revolve around repeated condemnations of common practices of sinful forgiveness, but remain largely unmoored without any working definitions of good and bad forgiveness to work as points of reference. In addition, the movement of the book suffers from Continue reading