Last Time I Checked

A few thoughts on the brouhaha over Chick-Fil-A:

Several weeks ago, Mr. Dan Cathy was asked where he stood on same sex marriage. He didn’t rant or rave. He didn’t fire back with wrathful invective. He didn’t say that homosexuals would be refused service (or even employment) at Chick-Fil-A restaurants. He simply stated that he stood by the traditional one man/one woman definition of marriage. And everyone went batty.

In the mean time, Chicago alderman Joe Moreno (supported by Mayor Tom Menino) boasted about “denying Chick-Fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward.” His reason? Dan Cathy’s “ignorance.” Ah, we all say. Dan Cathy’s ignorance. So that’s the reason.

Just one thing… what, exactly, is he ignorant about? Health and safety regulations? How the permit process works? Zoning? How to properly make a chicken sandwich? Fry a batch of waffle fries?

Nah. Dan Cathy knows about all these things. He just happens to be “ignorant” of the politically-correct and socially-acceptable position on homosexuality.

And everybody, in unison, cries, How dare he! Tar and feather the bastard! 

Can someone get me a napkin? I just choked on the coffee I was drinking.

Now, maybe I’m delusional, but last time I checked, we lived in the U.S. of A. Freedom of speech and all that. Not the dang Soviet Union.

Support Chick-Fil-A Day was an opportunity to stick up for a company that supported traditional (i.e. biblical) family values. It was also about standing against corrupt bureaucrats who think they have the right to punish those who don’t agree with them.

Mark Steyn says it well and forcefully,

It’s bad enough that in a supposedly free society you can’t sell a chicken sandwich to your fellow citizen without buying a bazillion permits from the state. If they can prevent you from selling a chicken sandwich because they don’t like your opinions, then what can’t they do to you?

Who the hell is Tom Menino to say you can’t sell chicken in Boston unless you agree with him? Who the hell is Murray Geiger-Adams to say you can’t tell a joke in Vancouver unless he approves it? Until more citizens of free nations are willing to say to statist hacks “Who the hell do you think you are?,” liberty will continue to bleed.

Disdain for Preachers and Preaching

“Much of the emergent disdain for preachers is really an uneasiness about authority and control. Discussion, yes. Dialogue, yes. Group discernment, yes. Heralding? Proclamation? Not on this side of modernism. But is it really modernism we are rejecting or something weightier? The decline in preaching goes hand in hand with a lost confidence in the importance of truth claims. Preaching presupposes there is a message that must be proclaimed and believed. The very act of verbal proclamation by one man to God’s people assumes that there is a word from God that can be ascertained, understood, and meaningfully communicated. This is what is being objected to in preaching, not simply the specter of modernism.

I find it disconcerting that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is supposed to be the new model for leadership. ‘Rather than being a person with all the answers, who is constantly informed of what’s up and what’s what and where to go, she is herself lost, a seeker, vulnerable, often bewildered,’ writes McLaren. ‘These characteristics would disqualify her from modern leadership. But they serve as her best credentials for leadership in the emergent culture.’ In the emergent church, pastors should move from broadcaster to listener. From warrior-salesman to dancer. From problem solver to quest inspirer. From knower to seeker.

No doubt, there are times when the pastor is facilitator and fellow seeker. But there are also times – every Sunday, in fact – when he must be a herald. And as he ministers among God’s people, he should be able to say, by the grace of God, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ’ (1 Cor. 11:1). It sounds humble when Pagitt says he doesn’t want to be his people’s pace car. But aren’t overseers supposed to be above reproach (Titus 1:6), able to instruct in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it (1:9), and in all respects a model of good works (2:7)?”

– Kevin DeYoung, Why We’re Not Emergent (pp. 159-160)

Book Review: Twelve Unlikely Heroes

Q. What sort of people does God use to accomplish His work? A. Not the sort you might expect.

In Twelve Unlikely Heroes, John MacArthur takes us on a tour of biblical history, showing us a dozen ordinary men and women who were used by God for extraordinary things. These people were not flawless; to the contrary, they were unsettlingly real. They stumbled, doubted, and fell. Some of them were pretty messed up. But God’s strength “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) – and He worked through these men and women in astonishing ways despite their shortcomings.

Before I write any further, though, I have a confession to make: this is the very first MacArthur book I’ve ever read. No joke. Several of them are on my reading list – Slave, in particular, is one I’d like to get my hands on – but Twelve Unlikely Heroes was the first to land on my shelf.

Thankfully, I think it proved to be an excellent starting point for a MacArthur-rookie like myself. His writing is simple (though far from simplistic) and engagingly conversational; and he does a smashing job of showing how the stories of these “heroes of the faith” apply to believers today.

Some of the heroes covered in the book are ones which we generally don’t think of: Enoch, for example; or Jonathan; or Moses’ sister Miriam, dubbed “the leading lady of the Exodus.” But as MacArthur digs deeper into their lives, it becomes plain that their inclusion was well-merited.

Ultimately, though, in reading about these men and women, we see something – or rather, Someone – even bigger. As MacArthur writes,

It is imperative to emphasize one critical point: the true hero of Scripture, in every Bible story, is God Himself. A quick review of several classic Sunday school stories immediately illustrates this point. Noah did not preserve the ark in the midst of the flood; Abraham did not make himself the father of a great nation; Joshua did not cause the walls of Jericho to fall down; and David did not defeat Goliath on his own. In each of those well-known examples, and in every other case, the Hero behind the heroes is always the Lord.

In literature, the hero is the main protagonist, the principal character, and the central figure of the narrative. This is certainly true of God throughout the pages of Scripture. He is the One who always provides the victory.  It is His power, His wisdom, and His goodness that are continually put on display – even when He utilizes human instruments to accomplish His purposes. Consequently, all the glory belongs to Him. (pp. xiv-xv)

Needless to say, I loved this book. I think you will, too. Consider that a recommendation, find yourself a copy to read.

Flotsam & Jetsam (8/16)

MovieByte: Looper – Sure, it could be a dud, but I’m sharing Draper’s optimism on this one. Sci-Fi is awesome. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is awesome. And of course, Bruce Willis is awesome. Put all three together, and Looper has the potential to be one heckuva movie.

Christ and Him Crucified – An excellent video from Pastor Jon Cardwell.

“All Men Are Created Equal” – Nathaniel Darnell writes, “When the Founders of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, they meant that all men were equally under the authority of God. They meant that all men were equally accountable to God’s Law.”

John MacArthur on Predestination – Courtesy of Michael Wright.

Mercy Ministry Mini-Reviews – Persis shares her thoughts on three books: Keller’s Ministries of Mercy, Lupton’s Toxic Charity (one I would very much like to read), and Corbett’s When Helping Hurts.

What’s Wrong With Patriarchy? – Good stuff. D.A. Carson observes, “In their defense of complementarianism, several Council members in The Gospel Coalition have been known to preface their remarks with the insistence that complementarianism is not to be confused with either patriarchalism or with mere traditionalism in men/women relationships. To some observers, however, all three expressions are roughly synonymous. So why do we insist on the difference?”

The Glory of Heaven – I haven’t listened to this yet, but it sounds excellent.

BPR: The Bourne Legacy – Ethan Hansen reviews the latest Bourne film. The original trilogy (starring Matt Damon) is one of my favorites, and I think it’s gonna be hard for this reboot to match it in excellence. Still, I’m planning to see it. Jeremy Renner as a super-spy is hard to pass up.

Because Of His Grace… – Terrific, as usual.

The FRC Shooting and the Vocation of a Hero – Great post by Joe Carter: “As C.S. Lewis once said, ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.’ Today, at the point of highest reality, when a dull desk job called for the vocation of a hero, Leo showed he had the form of every virtue. He was willing to lay down his life to protect those he served.”

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

Top 10 Favorite Animated Films

I love animated films. All that is required for you to enjoy this post is that you love them, too.

If, on the other hand, you think that animated films are for kids only, or that you’re above watching anything that resembles a cartoon – well, in that case, I have two things to say to you: go away. You may think you’re acting very “adult” (or some such rot), but as Lewis so glibly put it: “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

Lastly, I should add that this is not a list of the Greatest Animated Films of All-Time (though I think many of the ones mentioned here would make such a list); it is simply a collection of my personal favorites – the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart, brain, and funny-bone.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
That’s right: the number one spot goes to Monsters, Inc. And if you haven’t at least seen it, you have no business calling yourself a cinephile. Pixar has given us a vast array of superb films, but for me, this one is the cream of the crop. The story, the characters, the script, the “monstrous” animation – it all works. Perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Mike’s line: “Sulley, put that Thing back where it came from, or so help me…”

The Incredibles (2004)
Sleek artwork. Remarkable voice-acting. Slam-bang action. Brilliant script. Unforgettable characters. Thrilling storyline. Great message. All this to say, The Incredibles is incredible. In the words of R.L. Shaffer, it’s “a sharp, even amusing, homage to comic book lore, a great family-friendly action-comedy, and a thoughtful marital drama all wrapped up in a deliciously exciting package.”

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Simply terrific. It has an absorbing plot, an impressive cast, smart pulp writing, and consistently impressive action – all of which make it one of the finest examples of comic book filmmaking I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. What really makes it stand out, however, is the emotion and thematic depth of the storytelling. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Just remember one thing: while most of the films listed here are appropriate for all ages, this one is emphatically not. It’s grim, sobering, and loaded with considerable amounts of violence (including a murder which will make even the most hardened viewer cringe). Taking that into account, older fans will find Under the Red Hood well worth their time and consideration.

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