The Lion and the Land of Narnia

I was one of the contributors to a recently-released book, The Lion and the Land of Narnia. The book highlights the wonderful artwork of Robert Cording, whose paintings capture the wonder of the world of Narnia, and contains personal essays by a number of C.S. Lewis experts and fans. As the author of a biography of Lewis, I guess I fall into both categories. My essay had to be edited down for reasons of space, so herewith I share the "directors cut."

I arrived late to Narnia, but still in plenty of time for it to have a profound influence on my life.

I envy those who devoured the books as children, turning the pages expectantly to discover the adventures within. But I was nearly twenty, and had already been charmed by Lewis’ winsome theology in books like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. In fact, I delayed my reading of the Chronicles in favor of the non-fiction works. After all, I reasoned, I wanted to fill my mind with the “deep stuff” before I bothered with the lightweight children’s stories.

continue reading

Making Goodness Attractive

This is not a long or well-developed rumination, and it's probably been said before, but it's something I'd like to share, hopefully to start a civil and redemptive conversation about these issues.

After the talk of "re-humanization" in every facet of life - from business to art-making to wine-making to city-designing - at the IAM conference earlier this month, I've been thinking about re-humanization and Christian humanism in more practical terms. Don't be scared off by the term "humanism" - the idea of religious humanism is a far cry from secular humanism, with which the term is most often associated today. This is more akin to art historian and L'Abri theologian Hans Rookmaaker's statement:

continue reading

Why They Killed Jesus

This was my text from Palm Sunday; I thought it would be appropriate still, given the season.

                All over the world today, preachers will be speaking about the paradox of Palm Sunday. On the first day of this week, the people of ancient Jerusalem cheered and wept as Jesus came into town, riding on a donkey. By the end of the week, the same people were calling for his death. This is of course, an example of the fickle nature of crowds and of political opinion. But surely there is more to it than that! Unless some things happened in that week that we do not know about, the crowd’s rapid move from exaltation to rage seems jarringly disjointed. Perhaps that’s why the story continues to intrigue us.

                I was thinking about all of that this week as I began to prepare for this message. I reflected on the social conditions of that era, trying to gain some new understanding of the context within which the events of Palm Sunday and Holy week occurred. As I did, I began to realize that Jesus had become an intolerable threat to many powerful people. His existence had become the source of considerable anxiety for those at the top.

                Of course, the human beings who were so disturbed at Jesus had no idea that they were really small-time players in a cosmic drama. The real powers behind the events of Holy Week, the real source of the anxiety that gripped the kings, priests and finally the mob, were invisible to human beings. The invisible powers were, however, the ones really calling the shots. I want to talk about them in a moment. First though, let’s talk about the human side of this story. Let’s ask ourselves why the leaders of first century Judea wanted to kill Jesus Christ.          

Jesus Was a Political Threat

                Jesus was not a political threat because he cared about politics. Actually, he had become threatening because he viewed the political system under which he lived as irrelevant. He preached that the kingdom of God was coming; that the joys and fortunes of the masses would no longer be dependent upon states and kings. Because of this message, Jesus is often depicted as a revolutionary by those who want to make our Lord look like Che Guevara, plotting against governments out in the jungle somewhere.

continue reading
Tags | Belief

To Be a Man

My first-born is 21 today.

He's 21 and far away since I'm at home in Tanzania and he is studying in Belize, Central America. According to the laws of our passport country, Jesse is now officially allowed to saunter up to the bar and order himself a beer. I have to admit that this is not something that impresses him terribly much. Jesse spent his junior high and high school years in Portugal where there is no legal age to pass before purchasing alcohol, though it was loosely enforced as 16. When he did turn 16, he didn't rush out to celebrate either. He took a few sips of beer about 6 months later and decided to pass. If you asked him today, he'd say he doesn't really like beer but he would take a nice glass of wine with a good meal :-)

The fact that the United States says Jesse is now old enough to have a drink is something that befuddles me. The guy has been old enough to maneuver a vehicle on the Los Angeles freeways for 5 years already. (Do you know how many deaths are caused by teen drivers?) For 3 years he's been legal to cast his vote and weigh in on who the most powerful leader in the entire world should be. And, this is the one that really knocks me out, for these same 3 years he's been deemed old enough to die for his country.

continue reading

Seekers?

The first time I saw her, she was standing by the vending machine outside the classroom. When I got closer, I noticed that she smelled of sandalwood and rose. She had a string of beads woven into her hair and around her neck hung a thin rope on which was a picture of a brown man sitting in a half-lotus position. Glancing at the picture, I saw that there was a splash of color on the man’s forehead. His hand was raised in blessing and I wondering who he was praying for and why.

   When I realized that I was staring at the picture, I forced myself to look into her eyes. I needed to find out why she had asked to speak to me after class.

    “What did you think of the lecture?” She asked.

    “Well,” I replied with some caution, “the professor was certainly interesting. He convinced me that I need to know more about Bowley and attachment theory.”

The Third Language

Christy Tennant serves as Director of Development and Public Relations for the International Arts Movement. She interviewed Mako about his thoughts on "The Third Language." First, some comments from Christy.

One of the things I love about working for International Arts Movement is that I get face time with our founder, Makoto Fujimura, regularly. What a treat it is for me to sit with this inspiring individual, discussing deep issues, wrestling with the things that are difficult to get my mind around, and gleaning insights about beauty and the gospel. In many ways, and I know I’m not the first to say this, Mako is teaching me “how to see” – art, the Bible, Jesus, and the world around me.

At IAM, we talk a lot about something Mako refers to as a “third language.” This refers to a way of talking about things – culturally, politically, sociologically, internationally – in a manner that seeks to unite, rather than divide. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” so our desire to be unifiers in a disparate world flows from looking at the world through the lens of the gospel. If it matters to Jesus that we work toward making peace with our fellow man, then it must matter to us too.

Davidson Wildcats: An Easter Resurrection

No one predicted it.  No one anticipated it.   Even after it was accomplished, many still couldn’t believe it.  Tiny Davidson College upset mighty Georgetown University in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, 74-70.    The headlines played off the biblical story of David versus Goliath.  Surely, Davidson’s leading scorer, Stephen Curry favored David’s slight build and tender age compared to Georgetown’s 7-foot-2 giant Roy Huggins.   Curry poured in 30 points, while Huggins managed only 6.   This was a triumph for undersized, underdogs everywhere.  

What a sweet victory for my dear old alma mater. John Marks and I roomed together at Davidson College in 1982. Our documentary, PURPLE STATE OF MIND, began during conversations in Belk Dorm. We revisited our college years at the same time that Davidson was surfacing on a national stage. The Wildcats first round victory over Gonzaga was a mild upset–the first NCAA win for Davidson’s accomplished coach Bob McKillop. How satisfying to see our modest college compete and win in the NCAA basketball tourament. A school known for academics took a rare bow in athletics.

The Bridge: What is it?

I’m excited! Being excited over things isn’t so unusual for me, but this time I am really excited!

I get excited over making it home in time to watch my favorite tv shows, or eating avocado’s and drinking lemonade on a warm day. Like I said, it doesn’t take much.

But something is different this time. I’m excited over something that I believe has eternal benefits and joys. Something that will bring together the way things were suppose to be with the way things will once again be.

October 2007 I woke up in the night with an idea. This idea was inspired by events taking place in the lives of a handful of friends of mine who are all spread out in various geographical locations, even stretching into the eastern hemisphere. Every one of these friends who came to mind that fall morning, have one thing in common; they are all faithfully obeying the 4 great commission messages found in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:45-49 and John 20:21 as they serve the poor and the needy in our world.
continue reading

Three Reasons the Republican Party Might Survive November

Let me repeat what I have often said: if the Democrat Party cannot win this November, it will implode. They should win, and still have to be considered the heavy favorites, but if they fight all summer (no nominee until the Convention), they just might lose.

Polling is bad right now for Democrats when it should be at its nadir for the incumbent party, the Republicans.

At the moment, the Democrats have bad economic news, a War with mixed support at best, and an eager base. McCain should be Ford, getting clobbered early and hoping to come back against the unknown Carter. Instead he has a small but steady lead in most polls. Of course, the Democrats will get a bounce when they unite, but they have blown a chance to finish McCain off and win an easy race.

If they cannot win now, the Democrat Party will need more than superficial fixes. It may have to start over.

continue reading
Tags | Politics

The (Absurd) Power of a Euphemism

If there were a competition for which industry depended the most on euphemisms for its survival, I guarantee that education would win. Educators can’t live without euphemisms—not because they deal with fragile children, but because they deal with perfectly sturdy children’s fragile parents.

I discovered a hilarious option on the table for British educators. Apparently last year a group of teachers wanted to vote on a new grade classification that would replace F’s on the report card. Get this—the newly proposed label will be called deferred success.  That’s right. I suppose that for these children, success is coming. No, they’re not quite there yet. But it’s coming, mind you. They didn’t really fail, you see. But their success is . . . well, deferred for now.

continue reading
Syndicate content

Popular Blogs


Sign-up for the Newsletter
Sign-up for the Newsletter
Get the latest updates on relevant news topics, engaging blogs and new site features. We're not annoying about it, so don't worry.