Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seeing the cross in close-up and wide-angle

By definition the cross is personal to the Christian man or woman. Abstract theories of the atonement don't do me any good unless by faith I grasp for myself the truth that Jesus died for me. Meaning he died in my place and for my benefit. This personal dimension of the cross should grow more precious with each passing year. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst," the Apostle Paul proclaims (1 Tim. 1:15 NIV) and Charles Wesley strikes just the right emotional tenor with his immortal words.

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

The cross is, must be, personal, but it's also cosmic. In fact I'd hazard a guess that when the New Testament writers talk about the work of the cross it's more often in cosmic terms than personal or individual ones. They show it to us in close-up, but more often we're given wide-angle shots. In addition Jesus and the Apostles didn't speak of the cross just as a means of salvation, they quite often spoke of it in terms of judgment too. A classic text is John 12:31-32. Listen to this sweeping statement from Jesus as he's about to go to the cross.

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of the world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Peter's sermon at Pentecost (see Acts 2) ties the cross and resurrection to the text from Joel which foretells a day of cosmic salvation and cosmic judgment. Of course, Peter doesn't neglect to bring in the dimension of personal salvation: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." And then I love how Paul ties the personal and cosmic dimensions of the cross together in Colossians 2:13-15.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.


He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Are those "rulers and authorities" simply Satan and his demons? Yes and no. For what I think is a correct application you'll have to wait until Friday. Which brings me to the point of this post -- which is that tomorrow and Friday I'd like to break out the wide-angle lens and share two of the best things I've read recently on the cosmic, universe-shaking, epoch-shattering accomplishment of the cross. Christianity makes the audacious claim that the events of Holy Week are the pivotal events of human history, that they are of universal significance, and that through them we can begin to see the world as it really is. I'd say that's worth a look.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why "virtual church" isn't really church

I listen to a lot of sermons on my iPod -- John Piper, Tim Keller, Sinclair Ferguson, etc. It's a rich blessing. Those sermons are usually better than the ones I hear on Sunday at my church. Nevertheless, there's intrinsic worth in hearing the Word read and preached by one's own pastor in community with fellow believers. My pastor may not have the preaching chops of a Piper or Keller (few do!) but he'll be there when I need prayer or counsel. Most gospel growth happens within the context of a local church body.

More on that from Pastor David Livingston:

For the first time in church history, our generation is able to watch and hear quality Christian preaching and music seven days a week, morning, noon, and night. And indulging in this wealth breeds in some a “consumer mentality,” such that they can simply change channels or turn off completely whatever they don’t like. In this, many people fall into a similar pattern with their actual church participation, i.e., to routinely “surf the Web of congregations” instead of hanging in there with all the other imperfect people in their church.

They, therefore, ignore the plain biblical instruction for their good—that God ordains struggles, conflicts, and outright orneriness within a church body so that he will get the glory of saved sinners like them growing in their faith, practicing his “one another” commands, and showing a clueless, alienating world his alternative community of reconciliation and grace.

"Is Watching a Very Good Sermon on TV or Online the Same As 'Doing Church'?" (March 23, 2010)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Poles and peafowls

I didn't totally "get" Flannery O'Connor until I read The Displaced Person. It's a longish short story, more of a novella really, that comes at the end of the collection published under the title A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. O'Connor is firing on all cylinders in this story featuring her favorite theme: the strange and unpredictable nature of divine grace. Also showing up here is the incongruity of being Roman Catholic in the "Christ-haunted" Bible Belt South, another favorite theme born out of personal experience. She wrote about what she knew. The center of this particular fable is the stand-off between a shrewd widowed landowner, Mrs. McIntyre, and an old Catholic priest, who's prevailed on Mrs. McIntyre to take in a family of Polish emigrés to work her farm. O'Connor had a wicked sense of humor and a gift for writing dialogue that's sheer pleasure to read. This last is arguably the hardest thing for a fiction writer to master.

"But Mr. Guizac is a Pole, he's not a German," Mrs. McIntyre said.

"It ain't a great deal of difference in them two kinds," Mr. Shortley had explained.*

In the later years of her short life O'Connor raised peacocks at the family farm in Georgia. This contentious species shows up in The Displaced Person as a totem-like object of fascination for the old priest.

The priest let his eyes wander toward the birds. They had reached the middle of the lawn. The cock stopped suddenly and curving his neck backwards, he raised his tail and spread it with a shimmering timbrous noise. Tiers of small pregnant suns floated in a green-gold haze over his head. The priest stood transfixed, his jaw slack. Mrs. McIntyre wondered where she had ever seen such an idiotic old man. "Christ will come like that!" he said in a loud gay voice and wiped his hand over his mouth and stood there, gaping.

Mrs. McIntyre's face assumed a set puritanical expression and she reddened. Christ in the conversation embarrassed her the way sex had her mother. "It is not my responsibility that Mr. Guizac has nowhere to go," she said. "I don't find myself responsible for all the extra people in the world."

The old man didn't seem to hear her. His attention was fixed on the cock who was taking minute steps backward, his head against the spread tail. "The Transfiguration," he murmured.

She had no idea what he was talking about. "Mr. Guizac didn't have to come here in the first place," she said, giving him a hard look.

The cock lowered his tail and began to pick grass.

"He didn't have to come in the first place," she repeated, emphasizing each word.

The old man smiled absently, "He came to redeem us," he said and blandly reached for her hand and shook it and said he must go.*

I don't want to spoil the pleasure of experiencing this story for yourself, but I'll just say that in the end Mr. Guizac, the displaced person, turns out to be an odd sort of Christ-figure and agent of grace. Or is he an agent of judgment? You'll have to decide. In an age of safe Christianity with the rough edges smoothed over, Flannery O'Connor's vision of grace and faith might be too shocking for polite company. I'm pretty sure she'd be ok with that.

*Excerpts from "The Displaced Person" as published in A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1955)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kurosawa at 100

Wednesday was the 100th birthday of revered Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (1910 - 1998). The Daily Mirror has a collection of tributes from Kurosawa's fellow filmmakers -- one for each decade. Here they are:

1. Jaws and E.T. director Steven Spielberg once called Kurosawa "the pictorial Shakespeare of our time".

2. Despite only seeing one of Kurosawa's films, Seven Samurai, Italian director Federico Fellini described him as "the greatest living example of what an author of the cinema should be."

3. Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci said of the Japanese film-maker: "Kurosawa's movies and La Dolce Vita, Fellini, are the things that pushed me, sucked into being a film director."

4. American director Sidney Lumet said: "Kurosawa never affected me directly in terms of my own movie-making because I never would have presumed that I was capable of that perception and that vision."

5. American film-maker Sam Peckinpah said: "I'd like to be able to make a Western like Kurosawa makes Westerns."

6. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman said of Kurosawa: "Now I want to make it plain that The Virgin Spring must be regarded as an aberration. It's touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa."

7. Martin Scorsese said of Kurasawa: "His influence on filmmakers throughout the entire world is so profound as to be almost incomparable."

8. Francis Ford Coppola paid his own tribute, saying: "One thing that distinguishes Akira Kurosawa that he didn't make a masterpiece or two masterpieces, he made, you know, eight masterpieces."

9. Chinese director John Woo said: "I love Kurosawa's movies, and I got so much inspiration from him. He is one of my idols and one of the great masters."

10. German director Werner Herzog said: "Of the film-makers with whom I feel some kinship Griffith, Murnau, Pudovkin, Bunuel and Kurosawa come to mind. Everything these men did has the touch of greatness."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The un-creation

"He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness." Isaiah 34:11

Isaiah chapter 34 is one of the most disturbing sections of the Bible. The prophet paints a graphic picture of the day of the LORD -- that day when judgment will be meted out on the nations, and when the wicked will be devoted to destruction. The language here hearkens back to the battles of Joshua when the Angel of Yahweh took up the sword and fought against Israel's enemies. Edom ("the people I have devoted to destruction") is a precursor to all those throughout the ages who oppose God and his people. The imagery of Isaiah 34 includes blood flowing like an avalanche down the mountains (34:3). It reminds of that unforgettable scene from The Shining where the camera is literally engulfed in blood.

Should this be taken literally or metaphorically? I think both. It's literal-metaphoric. The day of the LORD spoken of by the Old Testament prophets saw partial fulfillment in judgments on the various nations that oppressed Israel, but it's ultimate fulfillment is yet to come. The exact sequence of those events I'll leave for others to debate. As graphic as the symbolism is, the reality will be worse than any literalistic scenario we can conjure up. Especially intriguing is the language used in verse 11 quoted above. Isaiah uses the same Hebrew words for "confusion" and "emptiness" usually translated "without form and void" in Genesis 1:2. In some sense the judgment of the wicked is a reversal of creation, an un-creation if you will. Those Hollywood blockbusters that portray chaotic post-apocalyptic worlds have a kernel of truth. For the righteous redeemed the day of judgment will bring a complete reversal of the disorders owing to sin, but for the unredeemed wicked even the good gifts they've enjoyed will be taken away. Confusion and emptiness will become ultimate reality.

Does this reversal of creation language give support to annihilationism? I don't think so. There are lots of indications elsewhere in scripture that the final state of the wicked will be a conscious state. One more thing . . . I'm glad Isaiah 34 is followed by Isaiah 35. Aren't you?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A heavenly choir

Perhaps you've seen this video that's been popping up all over the blogosphere. I believe the term is "it's gone viral". American composer Eric Whitacre digitally arranged hundreds of individual videos of people singing his piece Lux Aurumque ("Light of Gold") to create a virtual choir made up of singers from twelve nations. Both the concept and the end result are lovely.

David Murray at The Gospel Coalition blog sees Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir as an illustration of the heavenly choir made up singers from every nation, tribe and language (see Hebrews 12:22-24, Revelation 7:9-10):

As I watched in wonder, I could not help thinking of how Christ our Mediator gathers His people’s praises from every church and every believer in the world every Sunday and presents them, as a perfect choir, to His Father.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

David Frum to the GOP: Get real!

Writing @

Some Republicans talk of repealing the whole bill. That's not very realistic. Even supposing that Republicans miraculously capture both houses of Congress in November, repeal will require a presidential signature.

More relevantly: Do Republicans write a one-sentence bill declaring that the whole thing is repealed? Will they vote to reopen the "doughnut" hole for prescription drugs for seniors? To allow health insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? To kick millions of people off Medicaid?

It's unimaginable, impossible.

Frum then offers some suggestions for how Republicans can put away childish things and constructively engage healthcare reform in the months and years ahead. This one made me stand up and cheer.

We should quit defending employment-based health care. The leading Republican spokesman in the House on these issues, Rep. Paul Ryan, repeatedly complained during floor debate that the Obama plan would "dump" people out of employer-provided care into the exchanges. He said that as if it were a bad thing.

Yet free-market economists from Milton Friedman onward have identified employer-provided care as the original sin of American health care. Employers choose different policies for employees than those employees would choose for themselves. The cost is concealed.

Wages are depressed without employees understanding why. The day when every employee in America gets his or her insurance through an exchange will be a good day for market economics. It's true that the exchanges are subsidized. So is employer-provided care, to the tune of almost $200 billion a year.
[bold emphasis mine]

The whole article is worth your time reading.

A couple of housekeeping items

First off, I thought it was time for a facelift here at the ol' blogspot. Nothing major. Just a different masthead and a few tweaks here and there. Special recognition will be due to the reader who can name the movie, character and actor pictured in the new masthead.

Secondly, I've been suffering from an attack of the killer Chinese spam. To combat this I've reluctantly set all comments to be moderated. I know this can be annoying for legitimate commenters, but it's even more annoying having to go back and delete spam from several years worth of posts. My deepest thanks to all of you who read this blog, and I hope you won't be dissuaded from commenting if the fancy strikes you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How health insurance reform affects you

Take an interactive quiz @ to find out.

The most encouraging thing to me about the bill is that it takes some modest steps toward reigning in the insurance cartels. The most discouraging thing is that most of those steps don't take effect until 2014. Thankfully, the requirement that insurers cover children with pre-existing conditions goes into effect in 6 months. Too late though to help our son who was denied coverage earlier this year due to the "pre-existing condition" of mild anemia -- a condition very common in breastfed babies. Thank you Cigna. I haven't yet seen if this bill addresses the discriminatory way in which insurance companies underwrite policies for women of childbearing age. Hopefully it does. In order to get insurance for my wife that covers prenatal care and labor and delivery I have to put her on my employer-provided high cost, high deductible group insurance plan because we can't afford the cost of a "maternity rider" in the individual market.

On the cost side, I have serious doubts whether this grab bag of measures will "bend the cost curve" as Democrats have promised. Nor am I sanguine about "reform" that continues to let third-party insurance companies dominate the healthcare market. I've said it once and I'll say it again -- real healthcare reform means cutting the legs out from under AetnaBlueCrossBlueShieldCignaUnitedHealthHumana, and decoupling health insurance from employment. Some form of single-payer would do that. Perhaps this bill will move us in that direction. Only time will tell. A little over a century ago there was another monopoly that got filthy rich by dominating a huge chunk of the American economy. The Standard Oil Trust was broken up by a courageous Republican named Teddy Roosevelt. I hope I live to see the day when the health insurance behemoths go the way of Standard Oil.

One more "for what it's worth" and I'll leave off my venting for more pleasant subjects. An aspect of the new law that's causing a lot of angst is the requirement that all Americans buy some sort of health insurance (again, this doesn't go into effect until 2014). I wonder, how is this more alarming than laws requiring every driver on the road to buy auto insurance? Just a thought . . .

UPDATED 3/23: Here's a wonderfully worded prayer about ultimate health care from Pastor Scotty Smith.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vos on Jehovah's everlasting love (Jeremiah 31)

Geerhardus Vos:

Because it was love that inspired Jehovah’s kindness to Israel, there was no limit set to the store of pardon and salvation. “As often as I speak against Ephraim I remember him still; therefore my heart yearneth for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith Jehovah” (31:20). This gives the assurance that though the dreadful sword might again and again claim its harvest, Jehovah would make an absolute end. This inclusion of Ephraim amongst the objects of lovingkindness is, perhaps, the most touching trait in the entire prophecy. For Ephraim seemed to have been carried by the judgments of the past beyond every reach of hope and salvation; he had been lost, as it were, in the backward sweep of the terrible years: of what possible use could be to Ephraim mercy and kindness? But everlasting love, by reason of its eternity, surmounts even this. Like the vastness of heaven it encircles all the ceaseless change and attrition of time.

And what was true with reference to extinct Ephraim is just as true with reference to the past of every child of God. Each one carries for himself through life the consciousness of what cannot be undone. Who has never heard that doleful voice in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are not? There is nothing that will silence it except the thought of the infinite sweep of the omnipotent divine love: “Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears, for they shall come again” (31:16).

Quote from Jeremiah's Plaint and Its Answer

Friday, March 19, 2010

The ugly face of entitlement

If this video were a parable it would fit comfortably alongside the ones Jesus told about people who think they've earned their blessings, and are thus scandalized by the idea of free grace for sinners and the outcasts of society. "No more handouts!" Of course it's not a parable but a sad picture of the current political climate. Yet, I can't help but wonder . . . would Jesus be welcome at a Tea Party rally? Not Republican Jesus. Or white middle-class Jesus. Or "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" Jesus. But the Jesus revealed in Scripture who challenges all earthly ideologies and attachments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The subtlest of snares

'How fantastic!' said I.

'Do ye think so?' said the Teacher with a piercing glance. 'It is nearer to such as you than ye think. There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing about God Himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.'

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Those who've read the book will recall that the "Teacher" is none other than Lewis's hero and muse George MacDonald.

While I'm on the subject of Lewis -- here's N.T. Wright reflecting on CSL's influence.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A unique solution to evil

I'm not familiar with the book or author, but I really like this quote from the latest issue of Mission Frontiers magazine.

There will always be a cross somewhere in the midst of the Christian solution to evil, a cross of pain involved in not returning blow for blow; a cross of the natural, human bitterness felt in the experience of hatred and returning love in its place, of receiving evil and doing good; a cross reflected in the near impossibility of counting oneself blessed in the midst of persecution, or of hungering and thirsting for justice, or in being merciful and peacemakers in a world which understands neither. Between us and fulfillment, between us and everlasting justice, between us and salvation of this suffering world, there will always stand the paradox of the cross, a cross not for others, but for us. "The Jews are looking for miracles and the pagans for wisdom. And here we are preaching a crucified Christ, to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the pagans madness" (1 Cor. 1:22-23).

There is, on the one hand, a moral, human, political solution to evil in the world. And there is a Christian solution. The gospel, which contains the latter, will always be compromised by identifying it with the former.

Vincent J. Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered

Could it be we gravitate to political solutions to evil because they let us off the hook when it comes to the teachings of the New Testament? Passages like Luke 6:35 and Romans 12:21 may not apply to nation-states, but they very clearly apply to Christian disciples.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Carl and Karl with a word for preachers

@ Ref21

The cost of having it your way

Is it true that we are what we eat? Well, not literally. What a person eats does say a lot of about that person though. More to the point -- what a society eats tells a lot about that society. Eric Schlosser's polemical expose of the fast food industry is over ten years old, but it still makes for a rip-roaring read. Fast Food Nation may not cause you to swear off Mickey D's or turn vegetarian, but it would be hard not to think twice about one's eating habits after reading it. Most of us don't spend much time thinking about how our food gets to our plate. We don't have to. The industrialization of food has made it possible to eat our hamburger and fries in blissful ignorance.

Schlosser sets out to remedy that by taking his readers on a guided tour of feedlots, slaughterhouses and high-tech labs where chemists concoct those artificial and "natural" flavors that give those frozen, processed burgers that char-grilled appearance, smell and taste. Fast Food Nation is also an engaging cultural history and slice of Americana -- chronicling the rise of icons such as Ray Kroc and potato baron J.R. Simplot. Ironically, these examples of American ingenuity and individualism contributed to the rise of a system that thrives on rigid uniformity, eliminating competition and squashing the little guy. It's also a system that wants your kids -- as "Kid Kustomers". The fast food chains have become remarkably sophisticated at marketing to children as young as two-years-old. They know that "getting them while they're young" will translate into loyal adult customers. If you're a parent you'll want to read Chapter 2 of this book.

While cognizant of the benefits of the industrialization of food production (and the undoubted taste appeal of those crispy french fries!) Schlosser exposes the unintended consequences and hidden costs. Costs such as the alarming rise in obesity and "diseases of affluence" that are contributing to exploding healthcare costs. Systems of production that emphasize speed over safety, and rely on exploitation of cheap undocumented labor. These same production and distribution systems also make it possible for widespread outbreaks of sickness -- and even death -- due to new strains of foodborne pathogens, especially the notorious E. coli O157:H7. One reason is that the typical ground beef patty contains meat from dozens of different cattle. Betcha didn't know that. Why do so many people get sick from eating beef and poultry? To put it bluntly, there's s--t in the meat. One study cited by Sclosser claims to have found more fecal bacteria in the average American kitchen sink than on the average American toilet seat. Hopefully things have gotten better since the deadly E.coli outbreaks in the 1990's when this book was written.

I think they have. Though one detects a whiff of elitism in the "buy local" and organic foods movement, it's great that more and more Americans are concerned about how their food gets to them. We're becoming more willing to spend a little more for products like grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and beer brewed the old-fashioned way by small independent brewers. Consumers are looking to buy from companies they trust, and producers are finding ways to balance the demands of convenience and craft, automation and imagination. Even in the world of fast food there are exceptions to the utilitarian imperative. Schlosser writes about the In-N-Out Burger chain where "the ground beef is fresh, potatoes are peeled every day to make the fries, and the milk shakes are made from ice cream, not syrup." In-N-Out pays the highest wages in the industry and provides generous benefits. May their tribe increase.

If you're concerned about the "fastfoodization" of consumer culture (no longer just an American phenomenom btw), or just curious about how that Big Mac got here, I think you'll enjoy this book. It might even change the way you eat.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Newbigin: the gospel and culture

Lesslie Newbigin gives as good a working definition of "culture" as I've ever come across. It is "the sum total of ways of living developed by a group of human beings and handed on from generation to generation." These ways of living include language, the arts, technology, laws, and social and political structures. And fundamental to any culture are the "set of beliefs, experiences, and practices that seek to grasp and express the ultimate nature of things" i.e., religion. There's no getting around it. Religion is part of culture. Drawing out the implications of this fact for Christian mission was a major part of Newbigin's work. Read him and you'll begin to see how easily we can confuse our cultural assumptions with the gospel.

Here's an excerpt from Foolishness to the Greeks (1986) . . .

The words Jesus Christ are the Greek rendering of a Hebrew name and title, Joshua the Messiah. They belong to and are part of the culture of one part of the world — the eastern Mediterranean — at one point in history when Greek was the most widespread international language in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. Neither at the beginning, nor at any subsequent time, is there or can there be a gospel that is not embodied in a culturally conditioned form of words. The idea that one can or could at any time separate out by some process of distillation a pure gospel unadulterated by any cultural accretions is an illusion. It is, in fact, an abandonment of the gospel, for the gospel is about the word made flesh. Every statement of the gospel in words is conditioned by the culture of which those words are a part, and every style of life that claims to embody the truth of the gospel is a culturally conditioned style of life. There can never be a culture-free gospel. Yet the gospel, which is from the beginning to the end embodied in culturally conditioned forms, calls into question all cultures, including the one in which it was originally embodied.

Quotes from Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian: A Reader, ed. Paul Weston (pp. 108-109)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Protecting Obama

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

@ The Guardian a fascinating and disturbing look at the plots to kill the president and the men whose job it is to stay one step ahead of the plotters.

Apart from the Obamas themselves, the burden of such a threat falls primarily on the shoulders of the US secret service, and as Joseph Petro, head of global security for Citigroup, puts it, the challenges facing the service today are unlike any period that has gone before. On top of all the usual risks associated with guarding the world's most powerful politician, there is now the added, explosive ingredient of his race. "As the first black president he creates a whole other set of issues for the secret service to deal with," he says.

Petro can claim to be something of an expert in this area: he spent 23 years as a special agent in the service, four of them, from 1982 to 1986, as the man who stood beside Ronald Reagan. He knows what it's like to be the last line of protection, how it feels to be in a milling crowd in which you are surrounded by thousands of potential assailants, what it is to live with the constant knowledge that any mistake – a split second taking your eye off the ball – could be fatal.

Petro has a formula for measuring the potential dangers for any particular incumbent of the White House. You take the general atmosphere of the times in which they are in office and combine it with the specific personality that the president brings to the job. In both regards, he says, Obama presents a huge task.

"In Obama, we have a president with a very unique personality who likes to be out with the people. Put that together with the political atmosphere of these times that is highly partisan and vitriolic, then include race, and we've got a big challenge. There's no margin for error."

HT: Challies

Friday, March 5, 2010

There's something about a library . . .

This compendium of beautiful libraries reminded me of two favorite movie scenes that take place in a library. Here they are:

Se7en (dir. David Fincher, 1995)

Wings of Desire aka "Der Himmel über Berlin" (dir. Wim Wenders, 1987)