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The Eagle and the Chickens ~ A Parable

The Eagle and the Chickens ~ A Parable

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The Eagle and the Chickens ~ A Parable.

Once upon a time a bird nicknamed “Baldy” was born in a tiny little chicken coop.

When he was young¢â‚¬¦it seemed OK doing things chickens do~

He spent the day pecking at the ground, scratching around for bits of grain or juicy bugs to eat.

But as he grew older he noticed that he was different from the other chickens.

He didn’t make the same sounds they did.
His beak was sharper.
He didn’t like to eat bugs anymore–he wanted to eat fish.
(The other chickens thought fish was yucky).

He was way taller than the rest of them.
His wings were really long ~ he wanted to fly¢â‚¬¦
Because he wanted to fit in he kept his wings tucked away so nobody would notice them.

He began to feel very sad and unhappy¢â‚¬¦

Most of his chicken friends made fun of him because he was different from them.

By now the feathers on the top of his head had turned white¢â‚¬¦It made him look bald.

They called him Baldy-Chicken-Monster¢â‚¬¦

One of the nicer chickens told him that even though he was really different he should just learn to fit in¢â‚¬¦
enjoy bugs¢â‚¬¦ give up on his dream of flying¢â‚¬¦

“Forget about EATING FRESH SALMON AND CRAB!
WHY leave? We’ve got everything we need right here¢â‚¬¦”

To “Baldy” the chicken coop was feeling more and more like a prison

One day Baldy heard a sound way high overhead. It was the unfamiliar screech of a Red Tailed Hawk. He heard it again!

Baldy said to himself~ That is not a chicken ¢â‚¬¦ it can fly¢â‚¬¦
FROM THE END OF ONE WING TO THE OTHER IT MEASURES 4 FEET!

For the first time Baldy spread his wings out¢â‚¬¦

They were even bigger than the red tail hawk; FROM THE END OF ONE WING TO THE OTHER IT MEASURED 8 FEET!

Suddenly the chickens realized ~ Baldy wasn’t weird ~ He was a superhero!

Baldy spread his wings out and flapped them.
He gained altitude like an airplane¢â‚¬¦
Soon he was soaring high above the earth¢â‚¬¦
He was working up an appetite and looked down
& saw a salmon dinner with his name on it!

He began to sing a new and happy song¢â‚¬¦

He finally understood¢â‚¬¦

He was not a chicken meant to scratch on the ground in a cage.

He was a bald eagle, the most majestic of birds..

He was meant to take wing and soar as high as he could¢â‚¬¦

Isaiah said, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

God can help you take flight & soar because He made you uniquely you.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in September 11, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Palin & The Power of the Small Ones

    Palin  & The Power of the Small Ones

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

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    Palin & The Power of the Small Ones

    My work of integrating faith and culture is not primarily political and this is not meant to be a partisan political commentary. But I do feel compelled to comment on Sarah Palin’s speech because it illustrates a few elements necessary for understanding the true nature of power and how God distributed it.

    Here are some of the themes I see at work in what is happening with Palin (and Obama for that matter).

    1) Every human being is created in God’s image and is responsible for developing their unique capabilities in ways that glorify God.
    2) True power resides in these God imaged individuals whose power is released and becomes evident when they express their uniqueness.
    3) Because humans are geographically distributed, this power can be found wherever humans are found. Bloom where you are planted!

    These truths were taken by our founding fathers to be self evident and are also evident in every page of Biblical revelation.

    In today’s fallen world we have forgotten these truths.

    We believe power resides in places and the people in those places. The media, politicians and the wealthy are the powerful we are led to believe, and they reside in specific places ~ New York, LA, Chicago, Wall Street, Hollywood to name a few.

    Today’s evangelical world has fallen into this trap and regularly develops strategies aimed at the powerful in powerful places.

    I remember a few years ago when George Barna identified the centers of cultural influence, concluding that the church did not rate very high. He shared a plan to work with large churches (also believed to be the center of power) in strategic cities (coinciding with the “world’s list” of strategic places) to recruit the brightest and the best next-generation evangelical leadership prospects to mentor them and help them enter the most powerful educational institutions (Harvard, Stanford, Yale) so they could enter the most powerful positions in the most powerful companies in the most powerful cities I the world.

    I remember telling George that of the national book award winners I had interviewed, most were from small out of the way places and most hadn’t attended the best schools. They came out of nowhere, riding on the strength of their talent, internal sense of calling and desire to express who they were in their work, starting where they were in some small, out of the way farming community tucked away in some unknown village in the Midwest.

    Regardless of your politics, this is surely the most important lesson from Sarah Palin’s debut as a national and global presence.

    Here is what FERGUS SHANAHAN of London’s The Sun newspaper observed.

    [“A WEEK ago nobody had ever heard of her.

    Today she is the most talked-about woman in the world. And with good reason.

    Sarah Palin’s sensational performance at the Republican Party Convention may turn out to be the tipping point of this rollercoaster American election.

    Obama fans hoping she would fluff her big night were in for a nasty shock. This speech has turned the election upside down.

    It was simply stunning.

    Democrats and their Lefty media backers had been sneering that she was a small town nobody, a hick from the Alaskan sticks put into a job way beyond an inexperienced woman.

    Believe me, you will not be hearing that again.’]

    I am sharing these thoughts with you because I believe cultural transformation begins with personal transformation, and personal transformation happens in individuals who get a sense of their own power ~ It starts with you.

    Do you recognize that God’s image is imprinted on your life?

    Do you see that each of us hold common dimensions of Gods image ~ spiritual, intellectual, creative, relational and moral?

    Do you grasp that these common dimensions are imprinted uniquely on you because you possess distinctive talents, capacities and experiences that make you the only one of you?

    Do you believe that your job is to discover, develop and express your special genius starting where you are and to God’s glory?

    Do you recognize that this is the true nature of power?

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in September 4, 2008 by | No Comments »

    IN MEMORIAM: The Magical Chorus & Dave Scholer

    IN MEMORIAM: The Magical Chorus & Dave Scholer

    Originally posted on 3/9/2005
    David Scholer, one of my dearest mentors died Aast Friday after a long battle with cancer.

    What to make of a filmmaker who “is bored with and doesn’t like blockbuster films” and “doesn’t want to market to please the entire planet”¢â‚¬¦a guy who “wants a third voice, to make quality films about challenging subjects and still reach people” How about Oscar buzz and overnight success?

    Such is the experience of Christophe Barratie of France who wrote and directed one of this year’s most endearing and best films. Set in 1949 France “The Chorus” is the story of Clement Mathieu, a quiet, music loving teacher, and his influence on the, incorrigible delinquents he “educates” at Fond de l’Etang, a French boarding school. The name literally means “hard bottom.” Improbably Mathieu forges these hard scrabbled ne’er do wells into an above average, expressive boy’s choir.

    One of the boys has an extraordinary voice and with the teacher’s help pursues a musical career, rising to the post of world-class conductor of a great symphony. As this gifted student ascends to fame, the teacher disappears into anonymity, continuing to teach music faithfully and without acclaim. The wonderfully redemptive story is well told and the soundtrack is now a bestseller and deserves to be so. Critics note that the story has been told before and some complain of it’s conventionality, but audiences connect with the universal themes and delight in this one’s sweetness and simplicity.

    The story connects because any of us who accomplish anything in life can point to teacher(s) and mentors who arrived on the scene at a critically important moment and altered our life’s course.

    In my case I happened to speak to one of them a few hours before seeing the film. Dr. David Scholer taught NT at Gordon-Conwell Seminary when I was there, then became Dean at Northern Baptist Seminary. He later taught at North Park Seminary and is now at Fuller Seminary. Dr. Scholer possesses a keen intellect, which he thoroughly applies in his research and teaching, but most notably combines it with a warmth and personal concern for each individual student. Back in my day, his classroom was disciplined, his expectations high, a good grade hard to come by, but it was in his class that I gained an elevated sense of my academic and spiritual potential. That is a gift a teacher can give and the best always do. Though he is now in a prolonged battle with cancer, part of our conversation focused on a particular student he believes is not living up to his potential. He is still working at helping the student.

    Each year he and his wife Jeanette hosted a Christmas party, an open house complete with dozens of platters of homemade desserts. It was a “can’t” miss’ event, more because of the Scholers than the cookies.

    Yesterday he said (and warned it was at the risk of sounding self-serving) “what I love most about teaching is that I, a sixty-six year old, can walk into a room of twenty-six year-olds and know that they love me.” Our faith is not about the transmission of ideas, though they are important, it is about truth embodied, lived-out. Students love authentic followers of Jesus because such a person loves students. Such is the essence of the educational transaction as modeled by Jesus, who taught us that love involves laying down our life for our friends. This is the calling displayed by Clement Mathieu in “The Chorus” and by David Scholer in real life.

    If you’re looking for an enriching experience at the movies, see “The Chorus.” If you’re looking for a richer personal and spiritual journey, find your David Scholer.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    ‚©CRS Communications 2005

    Posted in Staublog in August 26, 2008 by | No Comments »

    The Intellectual & Spiritual Task at Hand & The Next Generation

    The Intellectual & Spiritual Task at Hand & The Next Generation

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    The Intellectual & Spiritual Task at Hand & The Next Generation

    The nice thing about getting older is there is hardly a mistake you have not made, so you recognize them when they are coming. (Unless one of the not so nice things about getting old has settled in ~ the loss of memory).

    I awoke this morning with a simple observation that I don’t have time to flesh out, but will simply state and develop later.

    Here it comes and it is breathtaking (or disappointing) in its simplicity.

    The problems with American Christianity are spiritual and intellectual not tactical or strategic.

    The meaning of it should be plain on the surface, but the importance for the next generation is profound.

    I came to this insight while thinking about the many conferences aimed at next generation church reformers. I observed that they are generally not intergenerational, still lean towards programmatic over relational, but most significantly ~ they tend towards the tactical, methodological and strategic over the intellectual and spiritual.

    This stands in stark contrast to L’Abri where theologian/philosopher Francis Schaeffer teamed with art historian Hans Rookmaaker to serve next generation seekers.

    Think of the long shadow cast into today’s younger generation by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as inspired by the Inklings, a gathering of friends — British and Christian (though with diverse theological vantage points), most of them teachers at or otherwise affiliated with Oxford University, many of them creative writers and lovers of imaginative literature — who met in C.S. Lewis’s and J.R.R. Tolkien’s college rooms in Oxford during the 1930s and 1940s and later in various Oxford pubs, between the 1940s and 1963 for readings and criticism of their own work, and for general conversation.

    Today’s younger generation is eager to create culture, but too often think of this as a tactical strategic move ~ get more Christians in film, music etc.

    But what will they produce when they get there if they are lacking in the spiritual and intellectual weightiness from which great, lasting work springs?

    This is a serious issue and one to which I hope those who are able will attend ~ I myself must turn my attention to preparation of Sunday’s sermon as I play my small part in equipping our little flock for the work at hand on a little Island called Orcas.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 23, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Tony Snow: Blessings arrive in unexpected packages.

    Tony Snow: Blessings arrive in unexpected packages.

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Tony Snow: Blessings arrive in unexpected packages.

    Yesterday (7/11/08) 53 year-old Tony Snow died after a courageous and unusually inspirational battle with cancer.

    The following is an excerpt from a personal essay written by Tony Snow, President Bush’s Press Secretary, that speaks of his fight with cancer. Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005.

    Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush Administration in April 2006 as press secretary. On March 23, 2007, Snow, a husband and father of three, announced the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen,- leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but has resigned since, “for economic reasons,” and to pursue ” other interests

    “Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, – in my case, cancer.

    Those of us with potentially fatal diseases – and there are millions in America today – find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will.

    Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence “What It All Means,” Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

    The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the “why” questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this, – or because of it, – God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

    Read the rest of this piece at Christianity Today online.

    Also take the time to read Bill Kristol’s editorial in the NYT . He mentions Tony’s love of Scripture and C.S. Lewis: “Tony once spoke at a dinner for journalists held in conjunction with the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Cal Thomas reported on Tony’s remarks: “After his first cancer surgery, Snow said, he had to stay in bed and he began reading the Bible more, ¢â‚¬Ëœlearning to pray’ and to ask God to ¢â‚¬Ëœdraw me closer, please, develops a hunger that is also a form of joy.’ ” As this last sentence hints, Tony was an avid reader of C. S. Lewis.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 12, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Rekindling The Joy of Humans Together

    Rekindling The Joy of Humans Together

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    The Joy of Humans Together

    I just returned from the UK where I hosted another Kindlings Hearth Retreat with Nigel Goodwin at his home on the Isle of Wight.

    The idea behind these retreats is simple.

    A by-invitation event where none of the participants knows who will attend, all having been asked: Do you desire to rekindle the holistic spiritual, intellectual and creative legacy of Christians in culture? Would you be interested in joining some other thoughtful, Christian creatives for a two-day getaway?

    Our purpose?
    1) Develop friendships with thoughtful, creatives in a relaxed environment.
    2) Enjoy lively conversation about faith, culture and ideas that matter.
    3) See where the first two lead us. (We also enjoy opportunities for prayer, laughter, good food, great wine and comfortable accommodations.)

    This is all fresh on my mind as I listen to “Con Te Partiro” being sung by opera and concert singer Neil Latchman ~ one of the participants of last weekend’s retreat. (Pictured on the left with Nigel on the right).

    I cannot adequately describe the richness and glories of his voice, one given by God but developed by Neil the steward of such a rare gift.

    The current issue of the New Yorker (6/23/08) includes an article on voice recognition systems including those used by corporate America for customer service¢â‚¬¦you know¢â‚¬¦the ones driving you mad?

    It concludes ~ “What’s missing from all these programs, however, is emotional recognition. The current technology can capture neither the play of emphasis, rhythm, and intonation in spoken language nor the emotional experience of speaking and understanding language.

    Descartes favored a division between reason and emotion, and considered language to be a vehicle of the former.

    But speech without emotion, it turns out, isn’t really speech. Cognitively, the words should mean the same thing, regardless of their emotional content. But they don’t.”

    For budgetary reasons instead of phoning each day, I text messaged my wife from the UK¢â‚¬¦it was not the same as hearing the musicality of her voice.

    I write books and blogs ~ but people who hear me speak experience it differently than those who know me in person.

    I broadcast and podcast ~ but the electronic transmission is not the same as being in the same room with me.

    God has made us to be with each other so we can see, hear, smell, touch and when appropriate, taste each other!

    The greatest argument against virtual life is real life ~ in local community with friends and family.

    I love Neil’s recording and on the DVD I’ll see and hear him, but virtually¢â‚¬¦there is nothing to replace the hours Neil and I and others sat in each other’s company and laughed, cried, ate, drank, prayed, sang, worshipped and felt a little more human by the end of the weekend.

    So ~ get up from where you are and enter the world of humans, even those of you more comfortable with ideas than people¢â‚¬¦

    As Jewish theologian Martin Buber once said,

    Here is the infallible test: Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at me.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    Posted in Staublog in July 2, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Love the One You’re With & The Last Lecture.

    Love the One You’re With & The Last Lecture.

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Love the One You’re With

    After a delightful tea in Oxford with Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’ personal secretary and editor of many of his works, Nigel Goodwin and I made our way to the Isle of Wight where we are about to begin a Kindlings Hearth retreat.

    My flight to the UK was uneventful; the days leading up to it were anything but.

    After two months of intermittent chest pains and heart palpitations, when they became steady for four days straight, my wife and a cardiac nurse convinced me to go to the emergency room. Two days later, after a lot of examinations, prodding and poking the heart looks strong, and I’ve been given the gift of reexamination of my life and priorities.

    A few alternative explanations for my symptoms are being tested and pursued, but the prevailing theory is a sobering one ~ turns out the experts think I’m getting older. Years of overwork, overeating and under-exercising, combined with a more insane schedule than ever have conspired to send a message to my body, which it, in turn is trying desperately to send to my so-called mind.

    SLOW DOWN IDIOT!

    During my two day medical ordeal my wife and I talked a lot about things that needed to be talked about. I think some decisions were made.

    1) Let go of some stuff. I am overcommitted.

    2) Develop a more relaxed attitude about the stuff I do. For a type A time conscious Swiss man, a book title like “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff¢â‚¬¦It is All Small Stuff” sounds like a scroll dropped from a planet filled with lazy, underachieving laggards.

    My doctor explained to my wife that while the title “Type-A” has been useful, so far the research shows that trying to change a “Type-A” to a Type B simply causes even more stress for the “Type-A.” This could just be a rationalization since my doctor told me he himself is a “Type-A.” (I knew there was something I liked about this guy!)

    3) Lose weight, eat better & less, and exercise. I get this message every year and say “this year I’ll get to it.”

    I read last week that Tim Russert said that to his doctor at his most recent and what turned out to be his final physical exam ~ enough said.

    4) Medication. My father’s side of the family is neurologically miss-wired¢â‚¬¦.badly. It is genetic and most of them take some medication to calm them a bit. I resisted this for my whole life¢â‚¬¦I acquiesced for a brief testing period.

    As soon as I am awake, not groggy and alert again¢â‚¬¦I’ll let you know if it is working.

    On the way here I read the book (and You Tube lecture) everybody is talking about, “The Last Lecture” with Randy Pausch. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he’s been given three months to live and has used the time to pass on to his children the lessons he’s learned in life

    It is an amazing book and lecture ~ well worth the attention it is receiving.

    One thing about Randy, he is not ashamed to share how passionate he is about all of life, including his work which he describes in great detail.

    I learned something once in an interview with Bill Hybels that stopped me in my tracks and I thought about it as I read Randy’s book and thought about my life.

    Hybels observed that he knows in detail all about the things he is most passionate about. While struggling with his marriage he realized he did not know the color of his wife’s eyes. He knew the average attendance of his precious Willow Creek Community Church SUNDAY MORNING services¢â‚¬¦but couldn’t recall a crucial detail from his personal life¢â‚¬¦

    The sixties song comes to mind, “love the one you’re with.”

    Does it not stand to reason this would imply, “be with the one you love the most?”

    As one who once traveled extensively, I know how a job can require travel and suck you in. I also know the ones who matter most to me are my wife and children. There are times you cannot discern this based on my use of time.

    Add to my list of lifestyle adjustments a review of loving the ones I’m with and making sure I am more fully and regularly with the ones I love.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

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  • This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Center for Faith and Culture, PO Box 77385, Seattle, Washington 98177

    ‚©CRS Communications 2008

    Posted in Staublog in June 25, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Holiday in Hellmouth: A Little & Useful Exercise in Belief & Disbelief

    Holiday in Hellmouth: A Little & Useful Exercise in Belief & Disbelief

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Check out Dick Staub’s new bookThe Culturally Savvy Christian.

    Holiday in Hellmouth: A Little & Useful Exercise in Belief & Disbelief

    Sunday a friend on Orcas Island asked me to meet for coffee (with others invited as well) to wrestle with questions raised in a New Yorker book review.

    I suggest you read it and ask yourself what answers you have in reposbnse to the questions raised by the brilliant interdisciplinary New Yorker Book reviewer James Wood in his review of Bart D. Ehrman’s new book, “God’s Problem” (HarperOne).

    This is a situation where the review is better than book being reviewed ~ having said that, both are worth your time.

    Read the review at The New Yorker

    Here is a sampler of the provocation.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Norman Rush, in his novel “Mortals,” calls this “hellmouth”: “the opening up of the mouth of hell right in front of you, without warning, through no fault of your own.” Without warning, and yet always feared. Job, whom God places into hellmouth to test him, knew that paradox: “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”
    Theologians and philosophers talk about “the problem of evil,” and the hygienic phrase itself bespeaks a certain distance from extreme suffering, the view from a life inside the charmed circle. They mean the classic difficulty of how we justify the existence of suffering and iniquity with belief in a God who created us, who loves us, and who providentially manages the world. The term for this justification is “theodicy.”

    ¢â‚¬¢ I discovered Samuel Butler’s image for the inutility of prayer in his novel “The Way of All Flesh” the bee that has strayed into a drawing room and is buzzing against the wallpaper, trying to extract nectar from one of the painted roses. Theodicy, or, rather, its failure, was the other major entry on my debit side. I was trapped within the age-old conundrum: the world is full of pain and wickedness; God may be jealous but is also merciful and all-loving (how much more so, if one believes that Christ incarnated him). If he has the power to alleviate this suffering but does not, he is cruel; if he cannot, he is weak. I wasn’t consoled by the standard responses.

    ¢â‚¬¢ For anti-theodicy is permanent rebellion. It is not quite atheism but wounded theism, condemned to argue ceaselessly against a God it is supposed not to believe in

    ¢â‚¬¢ If he no longer believes, of course, suffering should not be a theological “problem.” But the rebel is stuck, as Dostoyevsky knew well, in an aggrieved nostalgia for belief. For the believer, theodicy is merely “the problem of evil”; for the rebel, theodicy is also “the problem of theodicy.”

    ¢â‚¬¢ Ehrman concentrates on what you could call the first responders to hellmouth the Prophets, the Psalmists, the Apocalypticists and he is often illuminating. He separates three large strands in the Biblical writings: the idea that suffering is a punishment for sinful behavior; the idea that suffering is either ultimately redemptive or some kind of test of virtue; and the idea that God will finally vanquish evil and establish his kingdom of peace and harmony.

    ¢â‚¬¢ Christianity needs the concept of Heaven simply to make sense of all the world’s suffering that, theologically speaking, Heaven is “exactly what will be required.”

    ¢â‚¬¢ But Heaven is also a problem for theodicists who take the freedom to choose between good and evil as paramount. For Heaven must be a place where either our freedom to sin has been abolished or we have been so transfigured that we no longer want to sin: in Heaven, our will miraculously coincides with God’s will. And here the free-will defense unravels, and is unravelled by the very idea of Heaven. If Heaven obviates the great human freedom to sin, why was it ever such a momentous ideal on earth, “worth” all that pain and suffering?

    If we love God with all our heart and mind, our love must face these questions honestly ~ not just as an apologists would, with the aim being to defeat a protagonist, but as a human would, with a hunger to know truth and live life fearless in the face of all life throws our way.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in June 12, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

    Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

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    Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis, God & Hollywood

    “So what do you think of Prince Caspian,” you ask?

    Early in the film, during the train scene where the kids are transported to Narnia, I jotted down the word “magic” and then scribbled something about George MacDonald’s “Phantastes ~ A Faerie Romance for Men and Women.”

    This association would be a vote for Caspian. MacDonald was a literary and spiritual mentor to Lewis and his “Phantastes “makes the point that there is a very real and imminent, yet unseen world all around us.

    Thus Caspian announces, “two days ago, I didn’t believe in the existence of talking animals… of dwarves or… or centaurs. Yet here you are, in strengths and numbers that we Telmarines could never have imagined.”

    While somewhat predictable, the film offered some wonderful moments like the exchange between Lucy and Aslan.

    Lucy upon seeing Aslan: “I knew it was you but the others wouldn’t believe me.”

    Aslan: “Why would that stop you from coming to me?”

    Edmund came close to believing Lucy when he confessed, ” The last time I didn’t believe Lucy, I ended up looking pretty stupid.”

    Peter made the classic error of believing he could wage war without Aslan.

    These metaphorical pieces about the faith journey are there in this film thanks to Lewis’ storyline, but also in no small part I am sure to Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson whose job it is to maintain the spiritual intent while delivering an entertaining film. Credit is also due Michael Flaherty and Walden Media for their willingness to be true to Lewis’ Judeo-Christian views.

    Some Narnia purists are unhappy with the adaptation of the books to film because of departures from the “original text.” The same complaints can be made about Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” You should know that in highlighting the positives in the film, I am not ignoring the disappointments. Look at my friend Jeffery Overstreet’s review and you’ll see a less flattering look at the same film.

    Overall ~ the films do achieve an important aim ~ smuggling truth entertainingly. In the style of Pascal’s apologetic, they show “faith in Aslan” to be attractive, reasonable and perhaps true¢â‚¬¦in a way that makes you hope it is true!

    This gentler slope into faith is entirely consistent with Lewis whose writings generally take that approach.

    The Narnia film series is an interesting study in the “God and Hollywood” conversation. I think the reasons these films are working, while others are not are really very basic.

    1) They are based on classic, well written books.
    2) Imbedded in the Narnia series is a sophisticated understanding of the one true myth, the story all humans share in common.
    3) The Narnia stories are imaginatively told.
    4) The special effects enhance the entertainment value only because they grow out of the author’s imagination ~ Gresham told me he knew Narnia could not be effectively adapted to film until film effects caught up to what Lewis imagined in his head and transported to ours.
    5) The filmmaking is in the hands of professionals as is the marketing.
    6) The adaptation is stewarded by someone interested in translating Lewis intent not transliterating it.

    As I work with thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance, it is interesting to me that virtually every one of them found Lewis early in their journey and found him a worthy, comforting companion in their lonely sojourn through a land of imitative mindlessness.

    Where is the next generation of thoughtful creatives who blend the spiritual, intellectual and creative in crafstmanlike ways?

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in June 4, 2008 by | No Comments »

    Sir Ken Robinson. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

    Sir Ken Robinson. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

    Join Us at KindlingsFest 08 on Orcas Island this July 17-20. For more information about KindlingsFest and to book accommodations (It is booking up fast) go to KindlingsFest

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    Sir Ken Robinson. “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

    There’s a wonderful little story I’ve been telling the past few years. It captures the innocence, optimism, hopefulness, faith and creativity of a child.

    A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork. As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”

    Artists always love this story. In a sense all art in one way or another provides a snapshot of some insight into God. The story also reminds us of how far we can slip from the wonder of childlikeness to the jadedness of crabbed olderness.

    My friend Marty just sent me an email that said. “Watch This.” Good friends don’t waste good friends times in seasons where there is none to be wasted, so I knew he meant business¢â‚¬¦the business of rekindling creativity among thoughtful creatives for whom God is important.

    I now pass it on to you. Taped at the renowned TEDS event, Sir Ken Robinson asks: “Do schools kill creativity?” The questions he raises and implication of his answers are simple and profound. Best of all–he tells the story of the little girl drawing God! “Watch it!”

    “Do schools kill creativity?”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in May 20, 2008 by | No Comments »