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    Melanchton on the Usefulness of Fables

    Melanchton on the Usefulness of Fables

    Excerpts from Philipp Melanchthon’s short treatise (1526 or so) ‘On the Usefulness of Fables’:

    ‘There is altogether nothing more beautiful and pleasant than the truth, but it is too far removed from the sight and eyes of men for it to be beheld and known fortuitously. The minds of children need to be guided and attracted to it step by step by various enticements, so that they may then contemplate more closely the thing which is the most beautiful of all, but, alas, all too unclear and unknown to mortals… Therefore, extremely sagacious men have devised some tales which first rouse…

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    In a Form Which Is Strange to Us

    In a Form Which Is Strange to Us

    ‘Thus we must be very much on our guard that we do not sometime become set in our minds, that we do not resist Christ and refuse to believe in Him, not realizing when, where, how, and through whom He is speaking to us. And almost always it is the case that He speaks to us in the place, the time, the manner, and through the person that we do not think He should. As He Himself says, “The wind blows where it wills (not where we will or think), and you hear the sound of it, but you do…

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    Freezing Repetitions and the Spirit of Play in Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North

    Freezing Repetitions and the Spirit of Play in Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North

    A number of people have asked about the quotes from Thornton Wilder’s novel Theophilus North that I used in my talk at the 2009 Mockingbird Conference in New York [embedded at the bottom of the post]. The first comes at the end of the chapter ‘Diana Bell’, in which a woman who is trying to elope slowly realizes she is not really in love with the man whom she is trying to marry. She discovers instead that she is playing out once again an old story in her life, without realizing it; one which has repeated itself before and has…

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    Mockingbird Glossary: Pneumatology aka The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

    Mockingbird Glossary: Pneumatology aka The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

    A basic theological question in Christianity is: how is God present to us today? In New Testament times, the answer was pretty easy: God is present to us in Jesus of Nazareth. If you lived back then and you wanted to be near to God, a good bet was to go find this Jesus character and follow him around.

    Things, of course, are somewhat different now. Jesus is no longer present on earth the way he was in the Gospels. Indeed, God can often seem completely absent from the world. It is much harder to say with certainty ‘God is here’…

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    Selena Gomez on Spirit-Inspired Sanctification

    Selena Gomez on Spirit-Inspired Sanctification

    Selena Gomez, Disney channel star of Wizards of Waverly Place, has come out of nowhere with a song that addresses some of the key issues in what true Spirit-inspired sanctification looks and feels like. The song is called “Naturally”. “It’s intuitive”, she sings, “you don’t have to try”.

    Note especially the pregnant use of the category of “breath” and the reference to Eastern Orthodox theology (“your energy”). Also, the term “baby” means “Holy Spirit”.

    It comes naturally, it comes naturally

    You follow what you feel insideIt’s intuitive, you don’t have to tryIt comes naturally, mmmm it comes naturally

    And it takes my breath awayWhat…

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    Against Theology? The Holy Spirit as the Thief in the Night

    Against Theology? The Holy Spirit as the Thief in the Night

    Some fascinating and slightly enigmatic thoughts from Christoph Blumhardt on the Holy Spirit:

    “It has now become clear to me that what is decisive in the Kingdom of God is never a single dogmatically fixed and systematized teaching; rather, it is the living God alone that is decisive… But it has also, further, become clear to me that this living intervention of God never repeats itself once and for all according to a certain schema, or is carried out mechanically through means of grace. The intervention of God comes much more like a thief in the night.”

    “[In the history of the…

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    Rowan Williams on Martin Luther and the Cross-Shattered Church

    Rowan Williams on Martin Luther and the Cross-Shattered Church

    Happy thoughts from The Wound of Knowledge by Rowan Williams, taken from the excellent chapter on Martin Luther. I would make an eyebrow/Dumbledore/beard joke, but let’s face it, that one is pretty much played out. Read on for that comment by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Luther’s relationship to Rhineland mysticism you’ve been searching for:

    “This is the essence of Christian humility, the recognition of one’s total poverty, the ‘emptying out’ of human wisdom and human righteousness. It is a true ‘coming to oneself’, in that… it calls things by their proper names, penetrates the appearance, the illusion of being successful…

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    Mockingbird at the Movies: 8 Reasons to See Dark City

    Mockingbird at the Movies: 8 Reasons to See Dark City

    A few days ago I finally saw the 1998 science fiction cult classic Dark City, and it was pretty awesome. So here are 8 reasons to see it, if you are into that sort of thing. And by that sort of thing, I mean dark, well-crafted science fiction parables about life and human nature.

    1. Awesome trailer, including taglines like “In a world where night never ends, where man has no past, and humanity has no future…”

    2. It was directed by Alex Proyas, the same guy who did The Crow, which I haven’t seen since high school but remember being…

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    Reinhold Niebuhr on Obama, the Recession, and Creative Despair

    Reinhold Niebuhr on Obama, the Recession, and Creative Despair

    [Ed. note: Be sure to read the comments for the, um, commentary.]

    “[T]he course of history, particularly in the past two centuries, has proved the earlier identification of growth and progress to be false. We have, or ought to have, learned, particularly from the tragedies of contemporary history, that each new development of life, whether in individual or social terms, presents us with new possibilities of realizing the good in history; that we have obligations corresponding with these new possibilities; but that we also face new hazards on each new level and that the new level of historic achievement offers…

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    Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I Say Both!

    Kelly Clarkson and Moses, Meet Wilfried Joest and the Supremes

    Kelly Clarkson and Moses, Meet Wilfried Joest and the Supremes

    Earlier today I was pondering the old question of what Kelly Clarkson, Moses, and the Supremes have in common with 20th century Lutheran theologian Wilfried Joest.

    Fortunately for us all, I finally hit on the answer!

    They all agree that we need to stop what we’re doing and just kind of chill out.

    It’s obvious once you start looking for it:

    Stop! In the name of love.

    - The Supremes

    God begins his work with us when our own activity goes quiet—when we have become passive before him, both inwardly and outwardly. The zero point of human activity is the place where God does his work.

    -…

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    Top Five Best Fantasy Novels

    Top Five Best Fantasy Novels

    I am sure we all have our own views on which are the five best fantasy novels, but I thought I would throw in my own two cents on this important topic. For those who are not entirely clear on what I mean by ‘fantasy novel’, I am referring to those books that are often shelved along with science fiction in your local Borders, and which can sometimes be confused with romance novels from the covers, even though this is a HUGE mistake. (I think.)

    But first, some basic principles for what makes a good fantasy novel:

    1. A good…

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