Thursday, May 29, 2014

Happy 140th Birthday, G.K. Chesterton

I think it's probably a fair bet to say that no author has taught me more than G.K. Chesterton. On the other hand, the author who has taught me least would have to be, yep, G.K. Chesterton. It's an appropriate paradox.

Chesterton lived and breathed on paradox. His ability to enlighten me on matters spiritual is nearly immeasurable, but there's the rub: he may only enlighten those things which one already knows, which already lurk in the mind and form the basis of his favorite virtue: common sense. No other author has such a talent for revealing to me the truths that are, or should be, immediately evident.

This is, in fact, the premise of one of his greatest books: Orthodoxy. In it, he voiced many of the questions that plagued him as a young seeker.

"How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it?" 
"Why should ANYTHING go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?" 
"Can [one] hate [the world] enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tolkien on the Incarnation

Incarnation proves the intrinsic worth of each human person. 
~J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 136

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ was one of the central ideas in J.R.R. Tolkien's theology. Besides his philological attention to the whole idea of the word-made-flesh, he was interested in in the Incarnation’s refutation of the perceived schism between body and spirit, an idea particularly fostered in modern times. In the good old days, it was branded a heresy: Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed in the supremacy of the spirit over uncouth bodies. The vice versa equivalent would probably be modern secular materialism, placing all emphasis on what can be quantified. Both ideas are popular now, with trendy pop-Buddhism taking the place of Gnostic spiritualism.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sara Groves - Invisible Empires - Album Review

I still remember the day I saw that stories were about more than events, but ideas, characters, and truth. This discovery didn't extend into music until recently. Could there be an equivalent of great literature in music? I watched the ideas. Andrew Peterson’s Light for the Lost Boy takes on the loss of innocence, and ultimate redemption. Matthew Perryman Jones’s impossibly good Land of the Living is so complex I still haven’t figured it all out, but dabbles in sin, death, grief, and redemption. I leapt into the stimulating world of ideas and their expression through music and poetic metaphor.

Sara Groves’s Invisible Empires is a first, though. She takes on ideas, all right, but ones that you generally wouldn’t find in music and certainly not in the mainstream CCM. Ideas like: bio-ethics, escapism, current politically correct ideology, the pressure to conform to society’s ideal, and death. It sounds more like science fiction topics.