The Bird & Babe Public House

We offer pithy pontifications by the pint-full, and the best brain-food this side of Blogsford. There's no cover charge, and it's all you can eat/drink (although we strongly encourage moderation). Like any other pub, we always appreciate a good tip.

Monday, May 25, 2009

America's Next Top Pastor

Sit back and enjoy.

Read more

Friday, December 05, 2008

Evolutionary Hymn

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).

C S Lewis

Read more

Friday, November 28, 2008

"...It's in the game."

I have read many books which discuss the psychological and sociological implications of our plugged-in-world. None have been as intriguing as Richard DeGrandpre’s Digitopia, a collection of essays published in 2001. I like it because he constantly reminds his readers what he is not arguing.

In one particular essay he cites David Grossman (a retired L. Col. Army Ranger and WestPoint professor) who wrote a book on the psychology of learning to kill another human being. Grossman discusses how during WWII there was a failure by many soldiers to fire their weapons during combat situations. Interestingly, by the time of the Vietnam War the rate of fire jumped up from 15-20% to 90-95%.

This begs the question—what changed? Grossman demonstrates this change was the result of various desensitization techniques. I have no military experience, but what I gathered was that soldiers are put through various simulated acts of killing in order to replace a voluntary response with an involuntary reflex.

DeGrandpre, following this line of thought, applies it to our plugged-in-world when he writes, “the context of simulation in which desensitization takes place have been replicated within a large variety of action-oriented media, especially interactive video games” (37).

Now, it is important to note that DeGrandpre points out he is not arguing for a one-to-one cause-and-effect relationship; nor is he trying to oversimplify things. Rather, he is talking about a context of simulation that causes desensitization. In this regard he quotes Grossman again, who gives a great analogy.

Grossman points out that this conditioning media is like AIDS. The AIDS virus does not kill someone; rather, it attacks one’s immune system such that they become vulnerable to death by some other illness. Similarly, conditioning media creates an acquired deficiency in the violence immune system.

Is the rise in violence among teenagers, for instance, a direct result of playing video games? I think if one says yes they are arguing fallaciously. However, if one simply points out that the rise in violence among teenagers is because of desensitization due to various forms of conditioning media, then I think one would be making a valid argument—and they would be in good company too.




Read more

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Follow Up: A Little Foreshadowing

Read more

Hook 'Em Horns

Like many good things; don't ask me to explain it, just enjoy it!

BCS Rankings

Read more

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Language of Beauty

In Narnia and Beyond, a guide to the fiction of C. S. Lewis, Thomas Howard writes, "poetry (the literature of high imagination) carries the legitimate interest of all measurers and analysts (geographers, astrophysicists, all of us) on through to the clarity and intensity implicit in that interest from the outset" (71).

I wonder what many moderns, with their dichotomy between the bona fide disciplines (i.e. sciences) and the more feigned ones (i.e. humanities), would think of this; for Howard claims that poetry does indeed carry weight for all mankind.

Obviously this claim begs further explanation; and Howard, in typical fashion, gives it:

That is, if the botanist for example, finding himself galvanized by the efficiency and symmetry of the life forms he is scrutinizing, continues to press the question implicit in notions like efficiency and symmetry, he is going to find himself reaching for such words as "beauty" and "pleasure" and "awe", and at this point he is going to need poetry, at least if he wants language to chart these latter developments in his study. It is not that poetry or the poetic imagination uncovers some arcane significance in things that a cloddish scientific analysis cannot hope to see: rather we may say that the poetic imagination wants to speak with a language that charts how we mortals see these phenomena, the thing implicit in poetry all along being that there is perhaps no truer way to speak of the phenomena.



Read more

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Can Poetry Matter?

Given the nature of the classes I teach, at some point in the course of the year the dreadful "P" word shows its ugly head. At least this is what my students think when I say something like "Today we are going to discuss the poetry of T. S. Eliot..."--it would not take a visitor to my class long to hear much grief and sorrow expressed through horrendous shrieking when the word poetry is mentioned.

I have been thinking lately about why this is the case. Why is studying poetry such a seemingly daunting task? Of course, one could mention the rather esoteric nature of poetry—or, at least, that poetry has become esoteric. But, this is not interesting to me. Instead, I am more interested in the question of whether or not poetry can matter—make a difference in our lives.

This thinking has led me to an article written by Dana Gioia, the chairman of the NEA—who was recently interviewed by Ken Meyers on the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Gioia wrote an article in 1991 dealing with this same question; Link namely, can poetry matter? I found a fascinating analogy that he used to show how poetry can matter. He argues that poetry is like cooking. And, insofar as one could eat without first cooking the food, one could live their life without ever having read or understood a poem. But, asks Gioia, imagine what they would be missing.

Indeed, there is something additive about poetry. There is something about poetry which makes the spiritual nourishment that words provide taste so much better. How can I get my students to understand this? Thoughts…

Read more

Monday, November 10, 2008

Deism: A Serious Problem

I was asked a question this week about how to answer someone who holds to a sort of quasi-deism. This particular person holds the position something like God created everything but has since left us on our own to figure things out. Initially I began to think; certainly no one really holds this position anymore. After all, how would one know for certain that this deistic God did indeed create everything?

My thoughts soon carried me away into thinking about what would influence someone to think this. Hasn’t the Church dealt with this? Or, has it?

My thoughts soon brought me, as they often do, to N. T. Wright. I found this quote in Simply Christian which I found simply remarkable.

Many popular misconceptions of Christian faith make the mistake at this point of trying to fit Christian faith into a residual Deist framework. They depict a distant and austere God suddenly deciding to do something after all, and so sending his own Son to teach us how to escape our sphere and go and live in God’s instead…

Perhaps some in the church—with their teaching that the earth is doomed and must be tolerated until our final escape to heaven—have caused this misconception. Perhaps Deism is more of a problem than I assumed at first.

Read more

Friday, November 07, 2008

Intriguing Introductions

David Lodge in the Art of Fiction, a collection of essays on various aspects of British and American fiction, writes, “However one defines it, the beginning of a novel is a threshold, separating the real world we inhabit from the world the novelist has imagined. It should therefore, as the phrase goes, ‘draw us in’” (4-5).

As I sit at my desk contemplating this quote, I can think of three beginnings that completely captivated me:

Estragon: (giving up again). “Nothing to be done.”

From Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

“Call me Ishmael.”

From Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.”

From Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Can you think of any?

Read more

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Robust Reminder

... the way was prepared for our salvation, not by the Lord God's weaning men away from their physical life and teaching them to be spiritual, as the Buddha and Plato and other sages have urged. Rather, the way He laid out was crowded with altars of stone, and bloody pelts, and entrails and great haunches of lamb and beef, and gold and incence and fine-twined linen, and immense golden bulls holding up the brazen sea in the Temple. Doves, heifers, bullocks, rams--it was very crowded.

But that was all primitive. Surely something spiritual would emerge from those elementary lessons. Surely thoughtful men might anticipate the day when all of this would be put behind and be replaced with elevated thoughts and spirituality.

Indeed, it was all put behind. There came an end to those gory altars and all that slaughter. But it was not a tissue of elevated thoughts that replaced them. Rather, an angel appeared to a woman and said, 'Hail!' What we now had, far from the summons away from the physical realm that highminded men might have wished, was gynecology, obstretics, and a birth. Whatever we may imagine about the spiritual rhapsody that might have attended this angelic visitation to the Virgin, the one thing we know to have occurred was a conception. The virgin's womb teemed.

It was embarrassing to the religious mind. It proved a scandal. The whole ensuing story bothered and even enraged religious men, and it has continued to do so. Christian history is littered not only with the bones of the martyrs who have died at the hands of enemies who hated this story but also with the confused and heretical attempts of Christians themselves to skirt it. Seizing on Saint Paul's vocabulary and wrenching it about, they have tried to pit the spiritual against the physical...a religion that summons us away from earthly, earthy life.

Thomas Howard, Link

Read more

Friday, July 04, 2008

Strength and Honor

The following post is for 2 reasons: First, it is a tribute to those who have served and continue to serve our country. I love this country and I love those who swear an oath to serve and protext it. Second, I think this is a statement which, with only a few words changed, could serve as a model for how to be a Christian Man. So read. Thank God for soldiers. And Pray that God will make us into men like this for His Kingdom's Sake.


"In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation's call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America's finest special operations forces to serve his country and the American people, and to protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes who have gone before, it embodies the trust of those whom I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident, I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans, always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates, and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish the mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of the mission depend on me — my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required, yet guided by the very principles I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail."

Read more

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What He Didn't Say

Arguments from silence aren't very good arguments. But sometimes it is interesting how some people choose to answer certain questions. The ways people answer can be windows into how they see things enabling us to possibly see their answers to other questions. Here is one such example which I deem appropriate to our pub blog and to our church calendar given the nature of our blog and the time of the Christian year.

On Pentecost, when the disciples start speaking in tongues, some people began mocking them saying "They are full of sweet wine. (Acts 2:13)" Notice what Peter says in response....and what he doesn't say: "These men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only third hour of the day...(Acts 2:15)"

He doesn't defend himself from the charge of drunkenness by saying that they would never touch the stuff. What he says is that is it is too early for them to have been drinkin' long enough to have become intoxicated. He argues not about the thing but its use.

I don't know. Maybe I am reading too much into this. I just thought it was kind of interesting. What say you?

Read more

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Beloved Disciple

I heard an interesting theory in my Christology class with Colin Brown yesterday which was new to me, and may or may not be to you.

Although the beloved disciple has traditionally been assumed to be John, there is evidence that it may in fact be none other than... Thomas. Doubting Thomas? Why?

It is interesting that in following Jesus toward Jerusalem, Thomas is recorded as saying, "Let us go with him that we may die with him." Seeing this devotion to Jesus, is it hard to imagine that he was the only disciple to be with the women at the crucifixion?

And following the resurrection, when Jesus appears to the disciples, isn't it interesting that Thomas is the only one not present? Well, if Thomas was a faithful Jew as we ought to expect, then it would make sense that he had to be absent, for he would isolated while observing his period of purification after having come in contact with a dead body.

And this also explains why he would say, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." He did not say this because he is a "Doubting Thomas," but because he was the only disciple who actually saw Jesus pierced and dead.

Now if this is the case, then poor Thomas has been maligned and his character unfairly stigmatized for two thousand years. Not only that, but even more ironically, perhaps the gospel of John would be more appropriately entitled, yep, you guessed it: The Gospel of Thomas.

Read more

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Behold the Man

On the sixth day, after God had created the world and the first Adam, he beheld the man and the world, and saw that it was very good. This was indeed a very good Friday. And on the seventh day, God rested. Tragically, what followed on the eighth day was the rebellion of Adam and the consequent marring of that very good creation. And death entered the world.

Let’s now fast-forward to the week which we have just celebrated, Holy Week. The sixth day came, and on Good Friday, Pontius Pilate ironically voiced the words of God as he announced to the people, “Behold the man.” Jesus, the second Adam, and very God himself, completed His work. And on the seventh day, He rested in the grave. But the eighth day, the high holy day of universal history, had the opposite effect the first eighth day. The New Adam defeated death, and new life entered the world. New Creation had come, and just as had God walked in the cool of the morning in the garden on the eighth day of the first creation, so Mary Magdalene while visiting the tomb on the eighth was startled to find God himself walking in the garden in the cool of the morning on the eighth day, and she mistook him for a gardener.

New Creation has come, and we have new life through the Second Adam, God with us, Jesus.

Read more

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ergonomics of the Kingdom

Four buddies of mine (Andre is pictured here) came down and stayed at my house for a few days this past week. One of the things we did was to climb Vasquez Rocks, located just fifteen minutes from my house. We all had a great time, and even Matt Maselli, with blood and sweat (but no tears) made it to the top. This got me thinking about the new heavens and new earth, and ergonomics. I haven't thought this through completely, and I'm not solidifying my doctrine by posting this so don't cry "Heretic!" if I say something questionable.

I grew up being taught by everyone that in the resurrection, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, etc. However, I think that we all agree here that there will definitely be work in the resurrection; after all, the first Adam worked in the garden, and we will be redeemed Adams working in God's new garden.

I don't know about you, but I have come to appreciate work, and part of what makes it so good is the pain and exhaustion which you are able to overcome. I'm not saying that it's only good after the work is done and you can sigh and say that it was worth the pain. I'm actually saying that there seems to be something good in the actual pain, suffering, and exertion of it all. And there's something fulfilling and cathartic about collapsing on the floor after climbing a mountain, or running a race.

So I guess I'm wondering, how might this fit together in the resurrection? I'm hoping that somehow, my perfected body will be able to sweat, and ache. Is that crazy?

Read more

Sunday, December 30, 2007

He Stayed and Worked with Them

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this...

In contemporary Church language, a "missionary" is someone sent with full (or significant) financial support to spread the Gospel in a foreign place.

I am wondering...Where did this model come from? How did we come to the conclusion that some people who share the gospel should draw their livelihood from donations of others?

First of all, pastors (as I know many of you are) deserve to gain their living from their work:
11If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?...14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. - 1 Cor 9

Paul appeals to the idea that those who proclaim the Gospel deserve to reap from those among whom they work.

However, what I am not sure about, is the concept of "raising support" to be a missionary free from the demands of paid labor.

What is potentially wrong with giving money to someone for the sake of making disciples in a foreign place? Here are some reasons:

1. It Sets a Poor Example
Imagine the typical missionary who has full financial support and can devote 100% of their time to proclaiming the Gospel. Who can follow their example?

Now, consider someone who goes to a foreign country, works to provide for their needs, AND brings witness of Christ. This person could go to any fellow believer and truly say, "You can do exactly what I do."

Since we "pay" people to share the Gospel, I can see how non-paid missionaries can be unclear about their own role as disciple-makers. The follower of Christ who is waiting tables, doing construction, or working in an office could likely resent their job as meaningless and "in the way" of being a true disciple.

2. Everyone Must Work
We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat. - 2 Thes. 3

Labor is part of life. All disciples of Christ are responsible for sharing the Good News.

If anyone could have claimed that labor would get in the way of ministry work, Paul would have been justified. Yet, he adamantly required everyone to work, and he made himself no exception. (1 Thes 2:9)

3. Efficiency
People must be dependent on raising support before they can go. A missionary that could work to provide for their needs would be more stable in the long run.
A self-supporting missionary could also set their own schedule and would probably travel much lighter.

Paul both worked for a living and shared the Gospel to the exclusion of neither:
and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks - Acts 18

If Paul wasn't exempted from working (laboring and toiling) for a living, is anyone else? Are missionaries the same as pastors?

Any Thoughts?

Read more

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chillin' with Enn Tee

That's right; I know you're all jealous.

Read more

Monday, October 29, 2007

Over and Done With

I am convinced that the concept of covenant has been misunderstood by Christians, at least by many of the people in the circles in which I run. I have heard people variously say things like, "God made the covenant with Israel and God wont break his oath even if we break ours." Such statements have been used to justify a great deal of things regarding national Israel, their continued chosen status, their right to various promises which have not been literally fulfilled and how it all relates to the church. The problem is that we believe, or at least should believe, that God made a NEW covenant, meaning, among other things, that the old one is over.

We, as Christians, need to stop thinking either that we are God's JV squad that got put on the field while He teaches his starters a lesson; or that Israel is defined in any other way than as those people who follow God through His chosen Messiah.

For those who disagree, I give two pieces of information:

First: the words of Jeremiah from Chapter 32 showing the Israel BROKE the old covenant:

31"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD,

Second: a blog by a NT scholar talking about covenants, how they operate in the OT, and the nature of the covenant the God made with Israel.

Read more

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Living Word

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Parchman Endowed Lecture Series at Truett Seminary at Baylor University. The speaker was Ben Witherington III. I had been trying to find a way to condense my notes on his lectures for inclusion here. Turns out, I don't have to. Ben has felt moved to post the text of at least one of the lectures on his website. Warning: It's long. After all, it was a lecture (which you find here).

One of his main arguments is that given the literacy rates in antiquity, written documents were composed primarily to be read out loud to groups and not privately. Paul's epistles should be considered surrogate sermons, the words the apostle would have preached where he present.

I wonder what the implications are for us today. I wonder if it suggests that God's Word was meant to be communicated primarily as Living (spoken) words. (How shall they hear without a preacher?) If this is the case, I think pastors and teachers should take more seriously the art of preaching and learn not just what to say but how to say it clearly and convincingly.

What say you? Is this off base? Are there other implications of this suggestion?

Read more

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Skateboard Church

Yesterday in my Theology and Culture class, we watched a video about a "skateboard church" in the U.K. in which the worship consisted of skateboarding and bmxing on ramps, and which the pastor likened to liturgical dance.

I’m trying to keep an open mind about all of this, but it seems like one of the key elements of the “church gathered” has to do with the corporate aspect of it. If this is so, how do a bunch of separate skaters and bikers avoid the individualism implicit in the act of skating/bmxing? In other words, while these activities seem to be an excellent form of personal worship (like Eric Liddle’s running), they seem to present problems when applied to corporate worship. And what of the priority of word and sacrament in the divine service, which goes all the way back to the birth of the church in Acts?

It seems like the idea being put forth by this church is that, as opposed to having a heavy skating ministry within a church, the service is actually composed almost entirely of skating. If I am mistaken, and this really is a church with an Acts-type service interpreted through the lense of skate culture, then this isn’t really very revolutionary. Churches have been doing this type of thing for years.

Another question that arises is this: What happens to this church when these kids lose interest in skating? I personally skated in Jr. High and High School, but I have since left that hobby, and picked up and dropped many other fads over the years. Is this church destined to be a transient church, which only has a limited amount of time to disciple young people? What type of impact on the culture will this church have, or will it be forced to constantly follow the culture wherever it leads?

It really seems like this church is doing the reverse of “being all things to all people” and instead being one thing to one people. And what if this formula were used in other recreational “cultures?” For example, I love college football. How do you create a church for people who love college football? Would it be appropriate for me to invite a bunch of guys over to eat nachos and drink beer in front of my TV on Saturday morning as a form of corporate worship?

Any thoughts?

Read more