Saturday, January 06, 2007

Running Well - » A Night of Sorrow

Running Well - » A Night of Sorrow

Good old D.R. had his ego boosted tonight. It will last until Thursday.

That's when hunting season opens...

Target practice anyone?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Book Review: Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller - Thomas Nelson Publishers

Do you have an uncomfortable friendship? The kind of relationship that puts you in situations that are way out of your comfort zone and challenges you to think about what is really good and bad and what is just... uncomfortable? I have some friends like that, and I am thankful (most of the time) for them.

Reading Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz is a little like spending a weekend with one of those friends. Miller subtitles his little book, Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality and that right there ought to give you a good idea of what it is like to read! I finished this book over two months ago but have found it very difficult to write a review. There are several reasons for this.

First, I tend to like Miller’s writing style – it is a love it or hate it kind of thing. He writes in a breezy, conversational, near stream-of-consciousness fashion that I found quite winsome. Besides this, he has a wonderful turn of phrase and descriptive ability that perks up the preacher in me. I like to read good simile and Miller knows how to make comparison!

Phrases like food stamps representing “the bright currency of poverty” are shot throughout the chapters. And quick one-liners are in nearly every paragraph; “Living in community sounded so, um, odd. Cults do that sort of thing, you know. First you live in community, and then you drink punch and die.”

Plus, there is a realism to his writing that resonates with the reader. I have not read many modern authors who can capture the lure and sting of sin with such punch. His page and a half description of discovering pornography with Roy in the woods is shockingly realistic – a nod to the realism with which he writes the entire book.

But it is just this realism that might be the Achilles’ heel of the project. As much as I appreciated the literary skill of Miller and the jolt of refreshing illustration it provided, I was unimpressed with his resolution. Right away someone might suggest that non-resolution was the point – like Jazz. But I am too much a fan of that genre of music to fall into that trap. All good jazz resolves both in the song and by the end of the song. The diversity you hear in the midst of a piece is a reflection of the mutual trust and challenge of the musicians. They are playing off one another in a way that only Jazz allows – but this is not a solo or an experiment in purposelessness. They work toward something.

Miller seems to spend the first 70% of this book working toward something – even dangling out some hope that resolution is coming – but he never gets there. And here is why. From start to finish, Donald Miller’s source of ultimate authority is Donald Miller. So although he seems to come to some form of personal peace, you cannot expect that peace to be transferable. Jesus Christ is not given the place of ultimate preeminence here, so what could be a grand and glorious finish instead sputters and gasps in a man-centered, Donald-Miller-devised salvation of sorts.

Miller is a little like a friend who provokes you to re-consider your values and allegiances by his odd manner of living. But at the end of the day, you will find there is nothing better than life in Christ. A humble, self-denying, cross-carrying walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father, all through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He Chopped Off His Head! (Let the Children Know!!)

It is hard to find good children’s Bible story books, but never more so than in the recounting of David’s slaying of Goliath. There are all kinds of books that make much of David’s smooth stones and accurate sling... but I am waiting to see the kid’s book that depicts David standing over Goliath and using the giant’s sword to decapitate him.

Better yet, where is the story Bible that shows David bloodied from battle marching in to Jerusalem with that same giant’s noggin in hand?!

The greater David didn’t just knock our Enemy unconscious... He destroys the Destroyer. Let the children know!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is This What Your Family Does at Christmas?

How these things get started is really a subject of deep mystery. Nevertheless, our family was treated to a rare appearance of that comedic genius, Lester Bogus Hornbunckle, this past week. Not every family gathering includes live entertainment, especially of this calibre. And for that you should be thankful.

Yes, that is me he is mocking near the end. It went on for much longer, but thankfully my memory card filled up.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Well, that was nice!

Mrs. kerux, the keruxettes, the mini-kerux and I came back last night from almost a week of travel in the US. We were down to take part in the wedding of our flower girl (which made me feel about 137 years old!) who is 23 or something now and found a great guy to marry who has quite a throat-clearing surname.

I also managed to preach Sunday night at Grace Fellowship Church of Bremen – a church pastored by my brother-in-law Jon Hueni and his dad (my father-in-law and good pal) Bob Hueni. The church is also shepherded by one Aaron Hoake who is married to an Erin Hoake. Not that this is confusing. The three of them, the first Aaron, my brother-in-law and father-in-law are good eggs and good shepherds.

I was sicker than a hound dog hit by a Mack truck and left for dead on the wedding day – a nice little fever and pretty much every symptom known to man. The mini-kerux was ring delivery boy and one of the keruxettes was flower girl and I, the real kerux, was emcee of the reception. Here is a hint for all aspiring emcee’s: do not take two puffers of unknown substance, three Imodium, two Tylenol and antibiotics immediately before standing in front of people when you are trying to be funny.

We stopped by our friends the Macmaster’s on the way home. They have a lovely new home in Michigan which makes me think they will find the commute to church in Toronto a little long. They live in a place called Zeeland, which of course, being Canadians, they pronounce “Zedland.” You can tell there are a lot of Dutch people living around there since it is the only 12 square mile grid in all of Michigan with decent roads. Speaking of terrible roads in Michigan, the University of Michigan was spanked by USC 32-18 in the Rose Bowl, but we still passed thousands of people lining the interstate to catch a glimpse of the boys as they returned in shame. What would the traffic had been like if they won? Grown men were climbing the freeway fence to stand in the cold and wave. Those Yankees and their sports...

We came home to find out that a goldfish can live for 6 days without food. That was a mercy.

Still no snow in Toronto. That’s okay. It could go summer on me now and I would be happy... Christmas is over!

[Update: Mrs. kerux says the crowds were for the President Ford funeral procession. I am sticking with my story though. Now let's see... exactly where is the University of Michigan...]