Posts Tagged ‘book review’

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Books: A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch

July 23, 2010

A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch (2005, B. Spackman, UK: Piquant)

I’ve been reading this excellent book on and off for a few months. Each time, I am once again amazed by its intelligent exploration of Christianity and the arts (and kitsch). It’s very challenging, too, and there’s a good chance that a lot of Christian readers might even feel insulted or uncomfortable by the text. Not that feeling bad is a problem: sometimes the truth hurts! It has taken me so long to read, simply because it is so big, so deep, that I can only absorb it in small doses. However, it addresses several important issues of Christianity, and I highly recommend it.

It is for anyone who has ever stopped to ask about the meanings (both overt and hidden) behind Christmas card imagery, Jesus statues, graveyards, motherhood and Mary, Christian t-shirts, Bible verse embroidery, multimedia presentations in church, church buildings, What Would Jesus Do? bracelets, icons, relics and several other similar areas. The insights regarding Christian art, particularly in the pressure upon artists to deliberately incorporate deliberate Gospel messages in their work, is especially important. I have enjoyed the process of being confronted by this powerful illustrated text.

I just wonder how I can get all the Jesus bumper sticker types at my church to read it! (Before you ask, I do not have any Christian bumper stickers on my car. My theory is that, unless I’m a brilliant and consistently courteous, careful driver, I probably shouldn’t be turning people off Jesus by inadvertently irritating them. What is it with the crooked parking, lane-cutting, unexplained sudden braking driving habits of people with ‘Fear God’ bumper stickers*, anyway?!)

(Links accessed 23 July 2010.)

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Profound-Weakness-Christians-Kitsch/dp/1903689139/

http://orders.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=1903689139

http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=546404

http://piquanteditions.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=10

*generalisation for humourous purposes only

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The Awesome Song of Songs + a lament on self-righteous singles

May 12, 2010

Reading this on facebook? Please view and comment at the original post!

*Warning: big generalisations

Gledhill, T. (1994) The Message of the Song of Songs. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.

Koorong Books

If you read only one Bible study on Song of Songs, make it this one. It covers a lot of detail and is a positive read. It is so refreshing to read a Bible study text that affirms sexuality, rather than treating it as something to be dissected, abhorred and feared.

Today I read an article on a Christian website that seemed to characterise marriage as God’s ‘back-up’ plan for the Christian who has no self-control. It appeared to be a simplistic dichotomy between married versus unmarried. The single Christian is perceived as somehow superior to the married Christian.

Usually I find the articles on that site as being high quality and excellent; but this particular article really did come across as the poorly thought-out. Perhaps I misunderstood it. The author is clearly writing as a single man – there is a peculiar kind of arrogance (for want of a better word) that a lot of young single Christian men seem to have regarding their lifestyle / lifestage.

These foolish attitudes ignore the original created very goodness of marriage (Genesis 1 and 2). It also implies that somehow God sees the single as greater  than the married. Yet, as I repeatedly tell my peers, marriage is what has transformed me – it is through marriage and parenthood that I came to know Christ, that I shed much selfishness, that I have had to learn grace, patience, endurance, forgiveness and generosity. I have had to learn self-sacrifice. I can no longer go out to drunken parties and sleep in late and do what I feel like, because it is not about me. I can’t just buy what I want – the money is not mine but ours. Everything I do impacts on the lives of other people. I am an individual, yes, but I am a social being who exists within the context of family and community. Not that I consider myself communitarian, but we are more than just our individuality – we are all social creatures, designed in the image of a Triune God, purposed for LOVE, and love can only exist when we realise that ‘I’ is not the centre of the universe. (Yes, obviously single people are capable of love so please don’t think I somehow characterise “them” as the “Other” or as soulless robots.)

Now, I have read other articles by the same author that I have found useful and insightful. However, I must admit that these days I find little substance in Christian preaching that comes from young, unmarried, determinedly and self-righteously single (as opposed to those who are genuinely called by God and gifted to walk in celibacy / singleness). It simply rarely applies to my life stage. I am in my 20s and trying to discover who I am and where I am meant to go, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother and daughter and sister and cousin and niece, as a student and in my future career, and as a member of a local community of followers of Christ. There is a level of annoyance that I experience when unmarried Christians my own age start preaching on the benefits of what appears to be a generally self-absorbed life style. Singleness does not equal greater devotion to God. When I am scraping together money to pay another set of bills, trying to keep my kids in private Christian school, when I really would rather just have that money to buy myself some new jeans, or I’m trying to be patient towards my husband, trying to ignore my own convenience to serve my family, well – that’s when God comes in. Because only He can give me the grace, strength and energy that I need to get through these challenges. Only He can provide when the bills cost more than our income. Only He can help me create a healthy marriage.

I understand that many young Christians may be called to a time of singleness, but I think some unnecessarily inflate their pride by assuming that they are too good for marriage, that marriage is God’s Plan B. It also ignores the practical realities of marriage and parenthood in the Christian context – leave it too late and biology will have its way: the human female body is, I have heard, designed to reach peak child-bearing age in the mid-20s. It all goes downhill from there. A young woman who ever wants the possibility of having a family will need to bear this in mind before it is too late.

Gledhill’s Song of Songs is an excellent study that shows that sex really is designed by God as part of the whole human experience. I mean, it really does become a thing of beauty when considered through God’s eyes. It is a well-written and balanced text and I certainly recommend it, particularly to married or almost-married Christians. I for one would love to see Christians, in general, shed their bizarre hang ups and legalistic ideas regarding sex. I do get tired of the Christian marriage books (usually American, it seems to me) that treat sex in marriage as a series of “do nots” but miss out on the glorious complexity of the human being and the marriage relationship.

I also get tired of reading complicated manuals on dating, etc. Really, is it that complex?All this stuff on ‘the girl should not ask a guy out’, ‘you should have your first chaperoned date by age 15’, ‘some kinds of sex between a man and wife are sinful’… blegh. Whatever. If we spend all our time constructing these difficult and complicated and not-in-the-Bible rules, we’re going to miss out on the glorious full and abundant life God has for us. That extends to making up some rules, based on half-read Bible verses, about how God is disappointed every time a Christian gets married. Because He’s not disappointed. Marriage is given as an example of the love Christ has for His church. It is by no means an inferior state of being.

*Disclaimer – I am not trying to bag single Christians. I do not believe that married or unmarried is the argument or debate here. We are all unique and we need to ask God to open our eyes to what He would have us do.

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Christmas #27 – Christmas Apologetics And Further Reading

December 24, 2008

This post is mainly on the topic of apologetics. What is apologetics?

Apologetics, understood simply, is the field of theology that investigates the evidence for Christian beliefs. After writing the previous 26 posts in this Christmas series on the topic of the Gospel message, and the meaning of Christmas, I wanted to provide the reader with extra information on where they can learn more.

I have honestly sought to provide links here that will appeal to a broad range of Christians across different denominations. It would be impossible, of course, to provide every possible viewpoint, so I have been selective for time and space constraints. However, I hope that these will provide a useful starting point for those of you who are believers who want to know more about the basis for your faith. I hope that you find it helpful and encouraging.

*Inclusion of a website here does not necessarily imply complete acceptance of opinions put forward by that site. External websites may change without notice. All links given in good faith, accessed 1 October 2008.

Books About Jesus and the Gospel Message

* here I have provided the author’s name and title of the book plus links to online bookstores that sell each book.

Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew. Koorong.

Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace? Koorong.

Charles Swindoll, Jesus. Koorong.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Koorong.

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ. Koorong.

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods. Koorong.

Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Koorong.

Apologetics Websites

Creation Ministries International.

Institute for Creation Research.

Answers In Genesis.

Leadership University.

Probe Ministries.

TrueU.

EveryStudent.

Compass.

Ancient of Days – Archaeology and Biblical Research.

Biblical Geology.

CreationWiki.

Christian Answers Network.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Got Questions – Bible Questions Answered.

The Creation Research Society.

Global Flood.

Evidence of God.

Creation Apologetics.

The Young Earth Creation Club.

Uncommon Descent Intelligent Design Blog.

Werner Gitt.

Lee Strobel.

Josh McDowell.

Dinosaurs In The Bible.

Apologetics Books At Koorong.

Apologetics Books At Master Books.

Apologetics Articles About Christmas

“A Right Christmas”
http://www.icr.org/article/20101/

“Alien invasion or the meaning of Christmas”
http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/12/23/alien-invasion-or-the-meaning-of-christmas/

“Calculating Christmas”
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

“Christmas and Genesis”
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5535

“Christmas Countdown – when does the holiday season really start?”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2001/dec07.html

“Christmas – what is the true meaning?”
http://www.christiananswers.net/christmas/home.html

“Demonstrating the Christ of Christmas”
http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1177872/

“God of Creation or ‘God’ of Christmas?”
http://www.icr.org/article/700/

“Is Christmas necessary?”
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/christma.html

“Is the biblical Christmas story true? Is Jesus Christ for real?”
http://www.christiananswers.net/christmas/skeptic.html

“Jason Lisle vs. Hugh Ross debate: annotated transcript”
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3414

“Star Witness”
http://www.icr.org/article/254/

“The Drama of the Christmas story”
http://www.leaderu.com/humanities/dramaxmas.html

“The Real Twelve Days of Christmas”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/dec24.html

“The holiday formerly known as Christmas”
http://www.boundless.org/2000/features/a0000373.html

All links accessed 1 October 2008.

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291. Elfish Girl In Coloured Beeswax

September 22, 2008

Tinted beeswax crayon and graphite pencil on lined notepaper, August 2008.

Sometimes art is more fun when I just grab a notebook and start drawing. This came after a raid on my children’s pencil case. I have noticed a definite hint of Ancient Egyptian influence on the style of drawing I employ, with the person in profile, yet having a distored perspective as the eye is viewed front-on. Well, I can see this, even if no one else can!

I find Egyptian culture fascinating. Earlier this year I read a really interesting book, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, which offers an interesting possible harmonisation of Ancient Egyptian archaeology with that of the Ancient Hebrews. It’s written by Australian* authors John Ashton and David Down, and you kind find out more information at the publisher’s website. Click here for more information. I bought my copy from Koorong Books in Australia.

*That is, I’m reasonably certain they are Australian!

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