Flotsam & Jetsam (1/31)

Cautions for Mere Christianity – I really appreciated this article by Kevin DeYoung, in which he addresses two significant deficiencies in Mere Christianity – specifically, Lewis’ inclusivistic theology and his faulty views on atonement.

I Am, but Nothing Is – Challies answers the question, “What is the greatest hinderance to the gospel today?”

What’s Missing? – Interesting. Very Interesting. And sad, too.

Art, Nakedness, and Redemption [Caution: Mature] -William Vandoodewaard over at Reformation 21 states, “To reject nudity in art and film is no denial of artistic ability, nor of created beauty. It is a realistic, careful, humble acknowledgment of God’s redemptive work in Christ and His precepts for a grace transformed, holy, happy life in a fallen world.”

Gospel-Driven Sanctification – Tullian Tchividjian offers an excellent reminder: “… any piety and pursuit of holiness not grounded in, and driven by, the gospel will eventually run out of gas…”

“Every time you draw your breath – you suck in God’s mercy!” ~ Thomas Watson

The Eternity of God, and Heaven, and Hell

“And just as each person is appointed to die once – and after that comes judgment!” Hebrews 9:27

“And they will go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46

“The state of things after the judgment – is changeless and without end. The misery of the lost, and the blessedness of the saved – are both alike forever. Let no person deceive us on this point. It is clearly revealed in Scripture. The eternity of God, and heaven, and hell – all stand on the same foundation. As surely as God is eternal – so surely is heaven an endless day without night, and hell an endless night without day!”

~ J.C. Ryle

Book Review: Three Men In A Boat

Writing a truly good piece of humor is a difficult business. One can end up with something that reads like a cheap joke book, or something that tries so hard to be funny, it really isn’t. Of course, the goal is to land somewhere in-between these two dreadful extremes; to write a book that is intelligent, witty, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, all in one.

When I think of writers who have achieved this, the first name that comes to mind is P.G. Wodehouse. I consider him to be the greatest humorist in the English language. The next name that pops up is that of Jerome K. Jerome, and his comic classic Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). Wodehouse aside, I’ve never encountered a funnier writer or a funnier book. Period.

Three Men In A Boat follows the escapades of three English gentlemen – and a dog – determined to experience the joys of “roughing it”. They hire a boat for a trip up the Thames, and promptly embark on a hilarious adventure where they soon discover that braving the great outdoors may not be everything they thought it would be.

The book is pretty much funny in every sense of the word, and as another critic aptly pointed out, “Jerome’s masterful style turns even the most mundane events into a series of hilarious epics”. Yet beneath all the light-heartedness, it’s plain that the author is also offering a sharp critique of selfishness and ignorance in the English upper class. The jabs are subtle but pointed, and careful readers familiar with Victorian society will catch on without much difficulty. Therefore, as a whole, you could consider Three Men a deft mixture of biting satire and brilliant comedy. Similar to Orwell’s Animal Farm –
just a whole lot funnier.

And the comedy really is brilliant. Jerome never resorts to bawdiness or crudity (as so many “humorists” do these days), and yet he never fails to pull a laugh from the reader. That, my friend, is good comedy. Consider the following passage, one of my favorites in the entire book:

It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.

You cannot give me too much work; to accumulate work has almost become a passion with me: my study is so full of it now, that there is hardly an inch of room for any more. I shall have to throw out a wing soon.

And I am careful of my work, too. Why, some of the work that I have by me now has been in my possession for years and years, and there isn’t a finger-mark on it. I take great pride in my work; I take it down now and then and dust it. No man keeps his work in a better state of preservation than I do.

But, though I crave for work, I still like to be fair. I do not ask for more than my proper share.

But I get it without asking for it – at least, so it appears to me – and this worries me.

George says he does not think I need trouble myself on the subject. He thinks it is only my over-scrupulous nature that makes me fear I am having more than my due.; and that, as a matter of fact, I don’t have half as much as I ought. But I expect he only says this to comfort me.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

There’s really nothing objectionable in Three Men, save for some English-style name calling and a bit of old-fashioned slang; and I’d say it’s appropriate for ages 12 and up (readers younger than that likely won’t benefit from the subtleties and cleverness of Jerome’s humor).

So, if you love P.G. Wodehouse, or are just searching for something funny to read, pick this one up. And make sure that when you do, you’re alone. That way, when you fall out of your chair in uncontrolled fits of laughter, you won’t have to worry about concerned bystanders calling an ambulance.

Flotsam & Jetsam (1/27)

Me Myself and I – Have some marvelous fun with the English language! Also… looking for something on irony? Puzzled when it comes to oxymorons? How about using “that” as an adverb? And what’s up with antidisestablishmentarianism?

Ugly Dog Olympics – I dare you (no, I double-dare you) not to fall over laughing when you read this one.

Semicolon – If you enjoy reviewing books, but you’ve never participated in the Saturday Review of Books on Semicolon blog, then you’re missing out. Big time.

Admire Whom? – Petra offers an excellent reminder on the importance of focusing solely on Christ. She says, “We want praise for just about everything we do because it feels so good when we get it. I know! I also claim to know that God is the only one who deserves all honor and praise. The two don’t mix.”

Books, Books, Books – Kevin DeYoung shares a list of the 10 most influential books for Reformed Evangelicals (as given to him by the readers of his blog). It looks quite helpful, but I must admit that I was surprised J.C. Ryle’s Holiness didn’t make the list. How could it not?

And More Books – Looking to start your own J.C. Ryle collection? Here’s a great way to begin! (HT Persis)

2009 Academy Award Music Nominees – As someone who loves movies and soundtracks, I found this excellent article especially interesting. You can imagine my joy when I discovered that John Powell’s score for How To Train Your Dragon and Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception are both among the nominees for “Best Original Score”. Awesome! And one of them had better win!

Remember This – This probably one of my favorite posts by my Mom. She says, “There will be times in your lives that you’ll know hard providences. God, in His ever kind and loving way, will fashion some of your days to be full of pain and suffering and heartache. Other times, He’ll use common daily cares and struggles to bring you to your knees as He makes you more and more into the image of His Son.”

The Osteen Moment – Yours is coming soon enough.

“O ye who dislike cretain portions of Holy Writ, rest assured that your taste is corrupt, and that God will not stay for your little opinion. Your dislike is the very reason God wrote it, because you ought not to be suited; you have no right to be pleased. God wrote what you do not like; He wrote the truth.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon