Showing posts from December, 2009

book report: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I fell in love with Pearl Buck's world because of her magnificent writing from the very beginning. For example, this paragraph transported me to China onto the land of a newly married peasant farmer.

The sun beat down upon them, for it was early summer, and her face was soon dripping with her sweat. Wang Lung had his coat off and his back bare, but she worked with her thin garment covering her shoulders and it grew wet and clung to her like skin. Moving together in a perfect rhythm, without a word, hour afer hour, he fell into a union with her which took the pain from his labor. He had no articulate thought of anything; there was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods. the earth lay rich and dark, and fell apart lightly under the points of their hoes. Sometimes they turned up a bit of brick, a splinter of wood. It was nothing. Some time, in some ag…

cinema review: Avatar (2009)

The remake of Battle for Terra was pretty good. Here is the opening of my review of Battle for Terra this past May, I have a weakness for science fiction. Cool cartoons with alternative engineering and physics defying planets from directors enable me to ignore lame plots, shallow characters, and black and white themes. Hence, I took my kids to see the Battle for Terra and I liked it. I only have to rewrite that review slightly. Instead of cartoons, Avatar is CGI, but alternative engineering and physics defying planets are constant. Lame plots, shallow characters, and black and white themes remain, but the three hours of eye candy make the faults easier to swallow. IImage via Wikipedia will not bring my kids to see this PG-13 movie however. The planet's natives, the Na'vi, are portrayed like many native stereotypes here on earth, barely clothed, hence the females are mostly topless. Another strike against bringing my children to see the movie is the blatant sex scene. Perhaps b…

Edward Cullen is Tarzan

I'm spending my Christmas break reading some classics. I plundered the classics shelf in the Cover of Tarzan of the Apeslibrary and my loot included Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never expected the thrilling read Burroughs delivered. However, halfway through the book, I wondered if I was reading Twilight or not. Stephenie Meyer, may write stories affected by her Mormonism (see my previous posts one, two, three, four), but she also must have read and been affected by Burrough's Tarzan. I will interleave Burrough's passage, from chapter 20, Heredity. with a couple from Meyer's Twilight, from the end of ch. 12, Balancing, through ch. 13, Confessions, where Edward brings Bella to a clearing. I will keep Burrough's passage in order. I will put Meyer's writing in italics.

When Jane realized that she was being borne away a captive by the strange forest creature who had rescued her from the clutches of the ape she struggled desperately to escape, but t…

Merry Christmas - Gospel of John, chapter 1

John 1The Prologue to the Gospel 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 1:2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 1:3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 1:4In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 1:5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.1:6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. 1:7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 1:9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 1:11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 1:12But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children…

LDS hymn, "Praise to the Man", Yikes!

The melody is nice, the words are worshipful but of Joseph Smith not Jesus Christ. (see video at if you can't see it in feed)

Here are the lyrics.
Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus annointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.

Praise to his mem'ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assasins,
Plead unto heav'n while the earth lauds his fame.


Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.


Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up th…

8 Ways to Thrive (not die) with Family

This is from Tommy Nelson's ministry newsletter The Hub, formerly called Song of Solomon. His sermon series on the Song of Solomon was helpful in our marriage and definitely influenced my interpretation of the book. He is familiar with imperfect marriages and that results in imperfect families, even into adulthood. These words are helpful. Merry Christmas.
1. Take a deep breath – Is what your mother, brother, or sister-n-law said, or going to say really worth ruining the sweet time you have? I know that words are extremely powerful, but for many of us, we need to learn how to ‘give them less power.’2. Watch your tongue – As you have heard and will hear many times, An OUNCE of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If most of us would just take a deep breath, relaxe ONE moment before we speak, we would either say less damaging things or when someone says something Potentially damaging to us, we choose not to react.3. Stop thinking of the past all the time. This is huge in family. When…

book report: The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister

I received for review from Thomas Nelson publishers the first book in a new series called the Ancient Practices Series called The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister. I expected a book that was more encyclopaedic and almanac. However, this book is a liturgical devotional. Ms. Chittister finds abundant spiritual nourishment in the church calendar and seeks to demonstrate to those less enlightened the extraordinary benefits from observing the liturigcal calendar. I dog eared many passages in the center of her book where she meditates on ascetics and Lent and Ash Wednesday. Those devotions on pain and suffering for Christ spoke to me. However, as a low church Protestant, who has never followed the liturgical calendar, I asked myself frequently, “Why not the Bible?” For everything in the calendar she claims as a benefit for our spiritual growth I see primarily in the Bible, then, secondarily, in traditons. However, I know few Christians read t…

Commenting at...Faith autopsy again

In response to Ben's letter to Jesus.
Dude You are whining. Stop it. Grow up. Man up. You made your bed, now you are laying in it. Sorry it sucks. You shouldn't be disappointed that your utopian view of the church didn't pan out. It's not the view in the Bible anyway. See James 3:1 Image via WikipediaNot many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ESV
Is James being prescriptive or descriptive? I think the greater judgment is to be expected regardless. You betrayed the trust of dozens of people who gave you their money as a gift unto God. You aren't a chief sheep. You were their under-shepherd and took advantage of one of the sheep. You aren't safe to the flock bro. You turned wolfy. Your hunger was more important than your flock. 
Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ESV
The ESV study not…

Justice for American Indian nations

One thing I like about the Obama administration is his attempts to dealjustly with American Indian tribes. One example of this is a recent settlement with the nations to settle royalty payments for century old leases, see story at Buffalo Post. The AP story includes this important context and information, 
Under an agreement announced Tuesday, the Interior Department would distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Indian tribe members to compensate them for historical accounting claims, and to resolve future claims. The government also would spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations. The program would allow individual tribe members to obtain cash payments for land interests divided among numerous family members and return the land to tribal control.
The settlement also would create a scholarship account of up to $60 million for tribal members to attend college or vocational school.
If cleared by Congress and a federal judge, the settlem…

John Granger on Twilight

I'm happy to report that John Granger, who opened my eyes to the Christian symbolism of Harry Potter, has written a review of the Twilight series at Touchstone. It's a long article, so I don't feel bad sharing a couple paragraphs towards the end of his essay. I disagre with him about the quality of the stories. He calls her "a wonderful storyteller, if no champion stylist." I agee she is no stylist and I'm not sure her storytelling is wonderful. But kudos to John for reading through all the books and starting his article with compliments. As he did with Potter and reading into Rowling's background to see her use of symbols, he does likewise with Meyer and her LDS background. I'd actually like to pull several paragraphs from this essay, but then you would have no incentive to read the entire thing. Please visit his essay at Touchstone
This brings us back to the Garden of Eden. As mentioned above, Twilight is a romantic retelling of the story of Man’s …

Lies to reject from Twilight

I have to thank Randy Alcorn for this link to a Wired article on the 20 lessons from Twilight. Here are some that resonate with me as a dad of two daughters.

If a boy is aloof, stand-offish, ignores you or is just plain rude, it is because he is secretly in love with you — and you are the point of his existence.Secrets are good — especially life-threatening ones.If a boy tells you to stay away from him because he is dangerous and may even kill you, he must be the love of your life. You should stay with him since he will keep you safe forever. If a boy leaves you, especially suddenly (while telling you he will never see you again), it is because heCover of Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition) loves you so much he will suffer just to keep you safe.When a boy leaves you, going into shock, losing all your friends and enduring night terrors are completely acceptable occurrences — as long as you keep your grades up.It is extremely romantic to put yourself in dangerous situations in order to se…

Underground architecture proponent dies

From the top of Malcolm Wells's website.
Macolm Wells
With regret, we report the passing away of Malcolm Wells.Malcolm passed on Friday, November 27, 2009. Mac wrote his own obituary in advance. You can read it here.Below is a cartoon of his and his thoughts. I love underground housing.