New Essay

The kind folks at Reel World Theology are publishing an interesting series called “If These Films Could Talk” which take two films with similar themes but from different decades to see what they might have to say to each other. The series editor Blake Collier asked me to contribute, so I chose Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Minority Report (2002).

You read it by following the link below:

Keeping Watch on the Evil and the Good: Worshipping the State in Cool Hand Luke and Minority Report.  : For 13 years, my father was a corrections officer in a high security prison in Texas. Among his wards was the infamous Eyeball Killer, a man who murdered prostitutes and surgically removed their eyes.

 

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Apologia Crucis

Any apologetics worth its salt has to recognize the barriers to faith—to sympathetically recognize what Alvin Plantinga calls “defeaters” for faith. What does Marilynne Robinson’s apologia for Christianity have to say in response to a protest like [Ta-Nehisi] Coates’s? It can’t simply be an alternative history, correcting Coates’s blind spots, enumerating all the good things he’s missed. That is a game you can’t win. Christianity isn’t true because of the quantification of the good.

No, what’s needed is an apologia crucis. The only “answer” here, the only hope, is the sad, brutal madness of the God who dies on a cross—something that is starkly absent from the picture Robinson paints. The only “answer” here is the garish, scandalous proclamation of the God who takes on these injustices of our making, not in order to outweigh them in some balance of good versus evil but in order to descend to hell and rise from the dead. – James K.A. Smith, Marilynne Robinson’s Apologia Gloria.  

New Poems Published

Again, Fathom Magazine published a set of my poems. I’m glad they’ve allowed me to be a part of their project.

I hope these poems are helpful for you.

Names of Crops

The man had a hawk’s vision:
So far away, the feral form floated in the fenceline

I mimicked his naming of nearly nothing. 

Catch All

Mom folds the newspaper

and says, “Stay for dinner after you fix Daddy’s chair.”
I say, “In town, they call dinner lunch.” To
which she says, “Cows chew and call it moo.”
“I know, Mom. Butchered rabbits don’t split hairs.”

On Killing Prairie Rattlers

Mercy is violent but is not violence,
I would have tried to tell you.

 

 

Christmas Poems

The kind folks at Fathom Magazine have published a series of Christmas poems I’ve written over the years. Click through the links to read them, but please stick around and browse their magazine.

Anno Domini
In the year of our Lord was a great hush;
400 years since He’d spoken a word.
No man or woman had felt the great rush
of His wind, fire, quake, nor still-small voice heard…

Word Become Flesh: A Nativity
Herald the child: meek,
mild. Herald him on trumpets
ambatured for war…

Sing
Mary sang Magnificat passing protests in the street
Mary sang Magnificat
while Herod made sacrifices at the temple…

Reading Dr. King: Part 1

In signing [the Voting Rights Bill of 1965], the President announced that “Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battlefield… today we strike away the last major shackle of…fierce and ancient bonds.”

One year later, some of the people who had been brutalized in Selma and who were present at the Capitol ceremonies were leading marchers in the suburbs of Chicago amid a rain of rocks and bottles, among burning automobiles, to the thunder of jeering thousands, many of them waving Nazi flags.

A year later, some of the Negro leaders who had been present in Selma and at the Capitol ceremonies no longer held office in their organizations. They ha been discarded to symbolize a radical change of tactics.

A year later, the white backlash  had become an emotional electoral issue in California, Maryland and elsewhere. In several Southern states men long regarded as political clowns had become governors or only narrowly missed election, their magic achieved with a “witches’” brew of bigotry, prejudice, half-truths and whole lies.

– Dr. Martin Luther King. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community. “Where Do We Go From Here?” Pg. 2. Emphasis mine.

//One brief thought: This was published in 1967. We won’t progress out of racism. The subtitle of Dr. King’s book is “Chaos or Community.” Those are always the options.

The questions of language and war are often intertwined: a language is just a dialect with an army, as the saying goes

William T. Cavanaugh. “Killing for the Telephone Company.” Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church. (34). Eerdman’s.

And I realized then that the answer to “why write? Why talk? Why read? Why publish?” is that we are not primarily writing and reading and publishing to “fix” the City of Man. I mean, maybe things will in the future “swing our way,” and maybe our words will have had something to do with the restoration of social conservatism in America. But maybe not.

But the thing is, that was never—it never should have been—our major vision for writing anyway.  Why write, in the first place? The answer is the same answer you’ve got to give to “Why garden?” “Why have babies?” “Why build a house?” The answer is, because we are called to, we are called to be makers, because we are made in the image of a creator, and this is part of what it means to be fruitful, to have dominion, to be humanity, restored in Christ, as God intended us to be. It is by being the best humans we can be, the best makers we can be, that we will do the best for the culture at large.

If we’re writers, then we write because it’s our part of the human task to do this, to write essays and publish them, the way we might bottle peaches, or crochet granny squares, or install insulation. When we are in Christ, and being in Him, offer him our work, it lasts into eternity; I think it ends up as part of what we’ll be able to get from the libraries and bookshops in the New Jerusalem. It’s not about “turning America around;” it’s about living in the Kingdom now, being ambassadors from another city, being a light in a dark world. Living the cultural life of eternity, starting now.

the always wonderful Susannah Black, “On Writing in Dark Times” (via settledthingsstrange)