Richard Attenborough’s Favorite Film? Not What You Think

In light of Lord Richard Attenborough’s death this past week, NPR’s Morning Edition aired a special remembrance of his life. In a 2009 Scottish TV interview, Attenborough recalled his favorite film as a director. It wasn’t what you’d expect, i.e. Gandhi (for which he won an Academy Award in 1983), but instead Shadowlands, about the love-life of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman.

Attenborough reveals his affinity for Shadowlands at the 6 minute mark:

And here’s the movie trailer for Shadowlands:

 

 

 

Your Mind Is Not a Vacuum

All_in_the_mind

 

David Brooks writes about the relationship between the mind, morality and character in The New York Times op-ed article “The Mental Virtues”:

…[the]mind is embedded in human nature, and very often thinking well means pushing against the grain of our nature — against vanity, against laziness, against the desire for certainty, against the desire to avoid painful truths. Good thinking isn’t just adopting the right technique. It’s a moral enterprise and requires good character, the ability to go against our lesser impulses for the sake of our higher ones.

Read Brooks’ “The Mental Virtues” here.

Using Your Imagination to Fight Sexual Sin

Like most men with a healthy libido, I too struggle with my oft sin-tinged imagination (yes, even as a very happily married man with a great wife and five kids.) And while I can quickly recall the seventh commandment regarding adultery and know Jesus’ words, “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), sadly sometimes those texts (and similar passages) aren’t enough to curb the imagination.

But herein lies the problem. I’m not called to merely curb my lustful imagination. I’m called to kill it.

Or am I?

God doesn’t call us to kill our imaginations as much as redeem them.¹ Jesus didn’t come merely to redeem your soul from hell. Rather, he came to redeem all of you for himself. So how do you redeem lustful thoughts? Surely there’s no one right way, but here’s what I often do: I imagine.

I imagine that 30 years from now, my three sons and I are gathered together. One of them asks, “Dad, were you faithful to mom all these years?” Then I imagine what would happen if I weren’t faithful to her, looking into my sons’ eyes and shamefully telling them I wasn’t faithful. I imagine how this might affect their marriages, their fight with sexual sin, their raising their children in a hyper-sexualized culture.

But then I also imagine a very different answer. I imagine that I have been faithful to their mother all of these years, and I could look into my sons’ eyes, and without a shadow of doubt truthfully say, “Yes, I’ve been faithful to your mom all of these years. It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it’s hard. But, by God’s grace I’ve been faithful to her.”

Yes, by God’s grace. But also with no small amount of redeemed imagination.

¹I fully realize that killing sin, i.e. mortification, is not an option for the Christian. But I consider the above exercise as a form of mortification, not antithetical to it. I also realize that the relationship between thoughts, imagination and fantasy is often complicated, as well as how sin influences both. Bottom line: there are many ways to kill sin (negative) and foster sanctification (positive). This is just one of the many tools in my arsenal that has helped me over the years. Your situation may be very different from mine (i.e. female, married/single, no kids, etc.). The question before us all is the same: How might a redeemed imagination look given your context? 

From Deformed and Malformed to Conformed (or, Why Teach?)

The goal of conformity to the likeness of Christ then is a second and clear answer to the question, “Why teach?” But we need to recognize that such a process does not begin with persons who are simply unformed. It begins, rather, with persons who are deformed or malformed. Therefore, the ministry of formation must involve serious attention to these deformities, the tragic malformation in the lives of those we serve (and in our own selves as ministers of the Gospel).

—Gary Parrett and Steve Kang, Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church (p. 54).

Time for a Renaissance (with Guinness in Hand)

Contrasting the sober culture change realists James Davison Hunter and Andy Crouch, Os Guinness’ new book Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times refreshingly reminds us of 9780830836710the Gospel’s life and culture-changing power and hope.

I intend on writing a review of Renaissance soon, but from what I’ve read it’s a timely and necessary book given our present cultural moment. Reading Guinness’ Renaissance in one hand while holding a Guinness in the other hand seems most fitting. (Os is a great-great-great grandson of Dublin brewer Arthur Guinness.) 

Most websites provide a brief sample of Renaissance, but you can read the entire first chapter here.

For the past two years Guinness has been making the rounds speaking on what it means to have a Gospel renaissance. The most recent talk was at a recent Anglican conference in June 2014, beginning at the 37th minute:

“A Catechetical Revolution of the 21st Century”? J.I. Packer Explains

In this live-streamed video from an Anglican conference held June 2014, J.I. Packer practically explains the why and how of modern catechesis, including in a church planting context.

In a Packer-packed ten minutes (from the 27th thru 37th minute), Packer issues a call to both clergy and laity (i.e. pastors and congregations) to embrace “a catechetical revolution of the 21st century.”

Watch, think and prayerfully dream how such a revolution might begin in your life and church:

 

And When Everyone’s Gospel-Centered…

Many evangelical book publishers, churches, ministries and individuals claim to be gospel-centered, gospel-driven, etc. Google search “gospel-centered”  and you’ll find a staggering 5,600,000 results, while Amazon produces over 2,000 “gospel-centered” products. (Tim Challies provides a helpful breakdown of some key books and ministries here.)

Much like First Things editor R.R. Reno recently imposing a ban on robust, I suggest we consider similar sanctions on gospel-centered, driven, etc. Can’t we be more creative in our descriptions? One day “gospel-driven” and similar monikers risk becoming like the word evangelical.

Syndrome’s council has robust gospel-centered implications:

N.T. Wright Interview: The Normalcy of Narrative

N.T. Wright discusses the perceived slippery subject of narrative with Ken Meyers in a forthcoming Mars Hill Journal interview. Here’s a teaser:

But I think an awful lot of people, without even realizing it, live in a narrative….

Every time somebody says, ‘But now that we live in the modern world,’ dot, dot, dot. [sic] That’s what’s going on; they’re invoking that narrative. So I suspect that part of the problem is that controlling narrative is so big that it has driven many Christians, preachers, pastors, etc. to de-narrate their own faith and to leave it as sort of chunky little clumps of dogma.

Read an extended excerpt of Wright’s comments on narrative here.

Robustly Reformed Best Baggage?

Even though he uses “robust” twice in a quick span (a word First Things Editor R.R. Reno recently retired from his vocabulary due to overuse), Carl Trueman’s article on why Reformed Christianity provides the best basis for faith today is worth reading.

An excerpt:

“The Reformed Church has its own baggage, but given the nature of its origins and our own moment, it is the right baggage….”

Yes, this article is in a (gasp!) Roman Catholic periodical. Ironic?

Read Trueman’s article here.