Training in Righteousness
Other places I blog



web stats

Find Me On Twitter

Are you locked in?

Locked in to your perception of things, that is.

That is something I am writing about this morning at Out of the Ordinary.

As Christians, part of learning humility is understanding that we are not the centre of the universe. It is likely that we will come across other Christians who will look at the exact same situation and come to different conclusions. That may trouble us, because we want to be united with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But it is a reality we have to come to grips with. 

Click here to read.


Re-naming my blog

I'm not good at picking titles for things. When I started blogging in 2004, I couldn't think of any clever names. I was already reading a blog called "Writing and Living," an excellent name, so that was out. I have a one syllable first name it just didn't sound very melodic to combine "Kim" with "Writes." My husband gave me some crazy suggestions, and one that I laughed about at the time was "Purpose-Driven Dissident." I'm glad I didn't choose that name, because I really don't want to be known as a dissident. Perhaps at that time I thought I did, but not anymore.

It's nice when blogs reflect the writer. And it's more interesting to come up with a name rather than At the time I began blogging, I was a homeschool mom, but I am no longer, so I'm glad I didn't choose a name that reflected homeschooling. My blog was not specifically about motherhood, so any use of "mom" or "mother" in the title didn't feel right. Well, I don't write a lot about that, so I don't know if that's any good. And mothering has changed for me. How about "Empty Nester Mom?" And again, I don't write a lot about that.

Right now, I am a seminary student, and there are times when I wish I could re-name my blog something like "Middle Aged Seminarian," or "Aging Seminarian," but I won't be a seminarian forever, and who knows, maybe something will come up, and I'll quit next year. While my blog name does not really reflect a lot about what I do or what I write about, it does reflect something about me: I do press on. I am a persistent person. I occasionally throw up my hands in frustration when I feel like I'm failing God on a daily basis, but ultimately, I do persist. And the verse before Philippians 3:14 says: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." That, too, is my prayer. To keep moving forward for whatever God has in mind for me to do.

If I was starting a blog today, I would probably call it "Ordinary Theologian," or "Everyday Theologian." But I have no plans to change the title of my blog. In the grand scheme of things, it really isn't all that important. What I do hope to do in the future if I persist with blogging is learn to be content with the reality that most women don't read about theology or someone's experiences in seminary. I'm not going to get embroiled in the latest debate, either. I have come to see that hinging my thoughts too deeply on issues that may or may not be important ten years from now (think back to when everyone was talking about the Emergent Church) is not nearly as helpful as dwelling on the core truths of the faith. I can safely leave the contemporary issues to someone else. 


Augustine's Worship War

In Book X of Confessions, Augustine probes the matter of the pleasures of the senses. He does not want to allow his senses to control him, whether it is sight or sound. He recognizes that when his senses refuse to take "second place," there can be a problem. This applies to what he hears, including Church music. He is concerned that the music will overtake the message. He is concerned that he will love the music more than he will love the content. He leans to approval of the matter, but still is cautious:

So I waver between the danger that lies in gratifying the sense and the benefits, which as I know from experience, can aaccrue from singing. Without committing myself to an irrevocable opinion, I am inclined to approvae of the custom of singing in church, in order that by indulging the ears weaker spirits may be inspired with feelings of devotion. Yet when I find the singing itself more moving than the truth which it conveys, I confess thiat this is a grievous sin, and at those times I would prefer not to hear the singer.

The issue of music in Church is not a new one. While Augustine struggled with the temptation to let his senses take control and seek more the music that the content, we today experience something similar with being tempted to be more caught up in the presentation of the music than the content. Augustine was concerned that his senses not be in control. Have we ever thought of our response to worship music in such terms? It is possible to really be caught up in a song, thinking it is really powerful, but in reality, it is only the music we are drawn to. Writing good worship music is the marriage of a singable, pleasing melody with rich words. We have a lot of church music today that have great melodies and appalling words.

Augustine considers it a "grievous sin" when the song is more important than the truth. That's a strong statement. There are some songs I have sung in church which musically, are pleasing to the ear, but promote terrible doctrine. Would I be willing to consider that sin?

It's interesting to see that even back then, music was an issue in church.


What is the purpose of a book review?

I've been working on a critical review of the book St. Augustine: A Life. When I first saw the assignment, and saw the adjective "critical," I knew Dr. Haykin was not looking for something I might put on my blog. The fact that it has to be 2,500 words was a sure indication of that.

Part of the assignment involves interacting with other critical reviews. Yesterday, I spent some time reading some. The reviews came from Christianity Today, The Calvin Theological Journal, Christian Century, and one in First Things, so there is a measure of comfort that responsible people were reviewing this book. 

What I noticed in all of these reviews was the lack of a concluding phrase that said the reviewer either recommended or did not recommend the book. Certainly, someone can read between the lines and discern if the reviewer likes the book. However, in the review from First Things, the author actually has a few indictments for Gary Wills. These criticisms are written alongside him calling the book "delightful." Yet, he did not conclude the review with a recommendation.

I was left wondering how much the presence of Amazon book reviews has affected what I perceive to be the components of a book review. I don't always look at the reviews on Amazon, but when I do I notice that the majority are not very long, and are usually five star ratings combined with some one or two star ratings. It's hard to get a feel for the book when the reviews fall into such poles.

We want recommendations so that we know we're making a good purchase. But I wonder if the prevalence of Amazon as a marketing engine has changed our expectations of what a book review ought to contain. Of the reviews I read, the one from First Things was the best because the reviewer interacted not only with what he liked, but what he disliked, and that was helpful. I've read (and written) some reviews where the glowing endorsement is far too good to be true. I would rather have more information about what the book actually contains. I was once given a book to review and was very honest about what I saw as problematic content. I have never been asked to review anything by this publisher again.

In future, when I read book reviews, I think I'll be less concerned about a recommendation and more about whether the reviewer gives me enough information to make my own decision one way or another. And if I end up hating the book, that's not a big deal. No one ever died from reading a bad book.


Prayer answered by crosses

From the Olney Hymns
Prayer Answered by Crosses
John Newton 

I asked the LORD that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, his face.

’Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once he’d answer my request;
And by his love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

LORD, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the LORD replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 
That thou may’st find thy all in me.”