Tag Archives: the universe next door

On the Bookshelf XIX


The Christian Imagination edited by Leland Ryken
Featuring reflections by a host of great writers, including Tolkien, Lewis, Dillard, and Schaeffer. Pardon my slang, but I am totally stoked to be reading this. I’ve had it on my TBR list ever since Mrs. Pliego brought it to my attention during my visit to Mexico last year. I have a feeling my commonplace blog is about to get swamped.
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner
I’m forty-five pages in, and here’s what you should know: Boettner rocks. And yes, I’m taking notes like crazy. Here’s a favorite excerpt (just one of many): “God is no mere spectator of the universe He has made, but is everywhere present and active, the all-sustaining ground, and all-governing power of all that is.”
The Universe Next Door by James Sire
“A basic worldview catalog.” About halfway through, and thoroughly enjoying myself. Sire is a terrific writer and thinker; his chapter on nihilism – and specifically how it is the logical offspring of naturalism – contains some of the best writing I’ve ever read on the subject. Brilliantly done.
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology edited by Burk Parsons
“Calvin’s name evokes powerful images, most of them negative. In the minds of many, he is perceived as an ivory-tower theologian who was harsh and unreasonable, the driving force behind a dangerous theological system. In this volume, Burk Parsons and eighteen other leading Reformed pastors and scholars authoritatively reveal the truth about Calvin and his teaching that he was humble, caring, pious, Scripture-saturated, and, above all, passionate about upholding the glory of God.” Heartily recommended.
Manalive by G.K. Chesterton
I’m on something of a Chesterton kick right now, having just discovered that many of his works are available for free on the Kindle. I just finished The Napoleon of Notting Hill (mind-numbingly brilliant), and once I finish Manalive, I’ll move on to What’s Wrong With the World? and Eugenics & Other Evils. Nothing like a little GKC to liven up your bookshelf.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

A Rope to Hang A Culture

“The strands of epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical nihilism weave together to make a rope long enough and strong enough to hang a whole culture. The name of the rope is Loss of Meaning. We end in a total despair of ever seeing ourselves, the world and others as in any way significant. Nothing has meaning.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr., in a parody of Genesis 1, captures this modern dilemma:

In the beginning God created the earth, and He looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.

And God said, ‘Let Us make creatures out of mud, so mud can see what We have done.’ And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. ‘What is the purpose of all this?’ he asked politely.

‘Everything must have a purpose?’ asked God.

‘Certainly,’ said man.

‘Then I leave you to think of one for all this,’ said God. And he went away.

This may at first appear to be a satire on theism’s notion of the origin of the universe and human beings, but it is quite the contrary. It is a satire on the naturalist’s view, for it shows our human dilemma. We have been thrown up by an impersonal universe. The moment a self-conscious, self-determining being appears on the scene, that person asks the big question: What is the meaning of all this? What is the purpose of the cosmos? But the person’s creator – the impersonal forces of bedrock matter – cannot respond. If the cosmos is to have meaning, we must manufacture it ourselves.”

– James Sire, The Universe Next Door (p. 111-112)