Snyder Explains Screenwriting

Sydner_review_20210626

Blake Snyder. 2005. Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting that You’ll Ever Need. Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

If wanderlust has ever taken you outside your own profession to sojourn with another, you will discover new insights that will enhance both analogous to a year’s study abroad. Each profession has a slightly different focus and jargon to match. Jargon borrowed from one field and used in another can both enlighten and confuse, depending on the quality of the communication that accompanies it.[1] Crossing writing genres is no different.

Introduction

Blake Snyder, in his book—Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting that You’ll Ever Need—writes:

“The real inspiration for this book started with one simple desire: I had a whole bunch of snappy rules for screenwriting and I wanted to get credit for coining them…To get to the good part, I had to explain the screenwriting process, from idea to execution, in order for anyone to understand what I was talking about.“ (120)

Over the past several years, I have read and reviewed numerous writing books, but Snyder is the first author to take the time to define the many technical terms that he uses. If you don’t believe me, look up the term, beat—an emotional story transition. Most fiction authors use the term without precise definition. Snyder outlines fifteen such transitions on his beat sheet (70).

Snyder distinguishes his book, saying:

1.    He uses the language and terms actually employed by screenwriters,

2.    He has actually sold scripts,

3.    He has taught the material presented, and

4.    He explains how the business actually works. (xii-xiii).

The title for the book comes from Snyder’s rule that the author must present his protagonist as likeable, like the policeman that climbs up the tree to rescue a cat (xv). Authors who fail to take the time end up with robotic characters that readers/viewers have trouble bonding with.

Background and Organization

Wikipedia describes Blake Snyder (1957-2009) as: “An American screenwriter, consultant, author and educator based in Los Angeles.” He studied English at Georgetown University in Washington DC.[2] He writes Save the Cat in eight chapters:

1.    What is it?

2.    Give me the same thing only different!

3.    It’s about a guy who…

4.    Let’s beat it out!

5.    Building the perfect beast

6.    The immutable laws of screenplay physics

7.    What’s wrong with this picture?

8.    Final fade in (v-vi)

These chapters are preceded by a foreword and introduction, and followed by a glossary.

Sell Me

The one point that stays with you in reading Snyder is the importance of selling a script. In the moneyed world of movies, every conversation is metered like an elevator speech. Being able to communicate the theme, audience, plot, and key characters quickly takes pride of place.

Snyder sees four elements in your pitch: a touch of irony (an intriguing hook), a compelling mental picture, an indication of audience and cost, and a killer title (6-9). A “high concept” film is easy to see and pitches itself in one sentence (the logline; 14-15).  These elements are so important that Snyder starts with the pitch before writing a line.

The Spec Writer

Snyder describes himself repeatedly as a spec writer, a term he neglects to define. My image of a spec writer is the jaded writer who follows a director around always with a typewriter within reach, like the writer in Clint Eastwood’s 1990 film: White Hunter, Black Heart.[3]

The key to being a spec writer is to being able to analyze a story quickly in terms of genre and beats. Snyder gives us ten types of story genre:

1.    Monster in the house

2.    Golden Fleece (the quest)

3.    Out of a bottle (a touch of magic)

4.    Dude with a problem

5.    Rites of passage

6.    Buddy love

7.    Whydunit

8.    The fool triumphant

9.    Institutionalized

10. Superhero (25-40)

What is interesting about this list, it is that it classifies stories by their dominant theme rather than an undefined, literary tagline. This helps the spec writer to classify stories quickly and to detach emotionally so as to be able to change up storylines as needed to strengthen the emotional content. Snyder’s fifteen beats in a story then allows him to peg the key turning points in the plot (70) where such changes might be made. Understanding this framework, the jaded writer morphs into more of an action junkie on a quest to write the ultimate screenplay in the least amount of time.

Assessment

Blake Snyder’s book—Save the Cat—is perhaps the most helpful book that I have ever read on writing fiction. As I read through it, I had repeated ah-ha moments where things that I read elsewhere suddenly made sense. I also found myself memorizing Snyder’s categories and descriptions, knowing that it would be helpful to recall them as I watched movies or read novels that use such devices. If you are a writer or simply a wannabe, you will want to read this book.

Footnotes

[1] During my year in Germany, I heard the term ferkle, which translates as piglet, bantered about in new and interesting ways. At one point, a friend noticed my amusement at the use of ferkle in conversation and explained to me that ferkle did not simply mean a cute little pig, but one that had not yet learned to control its bowels and would defecate everywhere.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blake_Snyder. Also see: www.BlakeSnyder.com.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Hunter_Black_Heart.

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Kreeft Critiques Cultural Decline

Kreeft_review_20210507

Peter J. Kreeft. 2021. How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Hardly a day passes without someone explaining sharing their views about U.S. cultural decline. This morning after my swim a woman in the net lane introduced herself and expounded at great length on why she sent her kids to a Catholic school. At noon, I heard comparisons to the Book of Judges and the Deuteronomic cycle (Deut 30:1-3). More typically, these discussions focus on bad politics and things like rampant drug use or exotic sexual practices. When I heard about Peter Kreeft’s new book on this subject, I immediately ordered a copy.

Introduction

In his book, How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss, Peter Kreeft starts with a brilliant statement of the obvious. To save Western Civilization, start by having children (7). What is ontologically obvious is, however, not obvious to everyone—only a philosopher (or an astute student of the Bible) would be mindful of the priority of ontology.

Kreeft goes on to observe that a third of the pregnancies in North America end in abortion (8). Everyone wants to have sex, far fewer want to raise children—it is the religious people who have the most children; they are the also the happiest and live the longest (11). Thus, while the absence of children is an important indicator of cultural decline, their presence is indicator of cultural and personal advance.[1]

Background and Organization

Peter Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College, a Catholic school. His doctorate is from Fordham University.

Kreeft must believe that cultural decline is death by a thousand cuts because he treats the subject with eighteen chapter-essays on a number of pertinent topics. These essays stand on their own without obvious connection to one another. They are:

1.    How to destroy Western Civilization.

2.    What can Chicken Little do?

3.    The unmentionable elephant in the living room of the religious liberty debate.

4.    The paradox of poverty.

5.    The logic of liberalism.

6.    The social, moral, and sexual effects of symbolic logic.

7.    Twelve core values.

8.    Traditionalism and progressivism.

9.    C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the culture wars.

10. Heros.

11. What is a liberal?

12. What is the key to a good society?

13. Seventeen freedoms.

14. Four confusions about freedom.

15. Is Agnosticism in religion the default position?

16. A word about Islam and a defense of my controversial book about it.

17. Pity vs. pacifism.

18. Judgment. (v)

The pragmatic, postmodern art is a collage so to describe and rebut problems with it, one might reasonably employ an alternative collage.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Inherent in the observation that our cultural decline is a case of death by a thousand cuts is that small things matter. When we read in Leviticus—be holy because I am holy—we see God as concerned with details. We clearly are not. When Kreeft criticizes a thousand incoherent arguments that lay at the foundation of the postmodern era, it evokes the torture that a thinking person must endure being symbolically chained to an ant hill in the middle of such philosophical chaos. Ants possess no poisonous venom that can kill a person, yet the sum of a thousand ant bites is most certainly life-threatening. Those chained to the hill will no doubt appreciate the incineration of a few ants.

Thus, Peter Kreeft’s How to Destroy Civilization and other Ideas from the Cultural Abysis a delight to read for the reflective soul.

Footnotes

[1] The fact that Hispanics are the only ethic group in the United States where the fertility rate is above 2.1 children per woman, which is necessary for a stable population, may be related to their status as immigrants—they have had the smallest exposure to the negative factors leading to U.S. cultural decline.

Kreeft Critiques Cultural Decline

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Webb: Analyzing Culture

Webb_reviw_20210713William J. Webb.  2001.  Slaves, Women and Homosexuals:  Exploring the Hermaneutics of Cultural Analysis.  Colorado Springs:  IVP Academic [1].

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Toxic waste is a term once used in Washington to describe issues that could not be openly discussed without tainting the person discussing them.  High on the list of such issues were race, gender, and sexuality.  Hopefully, it is now possible to engage in reasoned conversation about these issues.  William Webb’s book Slaves, Women and Homosexuals:  Exploring the Hermaneutics of Cultural Analysis clearly attempts to begin that conversation.

Introduction

Webb begins with a question and an answer.  The question is:  So how does a Christian respond to cultural change?  His answer is:  It is necessary for Christians to challenge their culture where it departs from kingdom values;  it is equally necessary for them to identify with their culture on all other matters (22).  The tough part arises in distinguishing:  between kingdom values and cultural values within the biblical text (23).   This is what Webb sees as the interpretative (hermaneutical) task.

Webb applies his hermaneutical framework primarily to 3 issues:  slavery, women, and homosexuality.  He picks slavery because he believes the issue to be settled within today’s church.  Clearly, the role of women and the issue of homosexuality are under active conversation—at least across denominations and, in some cases, within denominations.

Four Views on Women in the Church

Webb (26-28) defines these 4 positions as held on the role of women within the church:

  1. Hard/strong patriarchy—unilateral submission of women with an extensive power differential;
  2. Soft patriarchy—unilateral submission of women with a moderate power differential;
  3. Evangelical egalitarianism—mutual submission with equality of power between male and female; and
  4. Secular egalitarianism—equal rights and no gender-defined roles.

Three Views on Homosexuality in the Church

Webb (28) likewise defines 3 positions within the church on issue of homosexuality:

  1. Marital heterosexuality only—homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle for Christians;
  2. Covenant and equal-partner homosexuality—homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle for Christians provided that the partners are equal-status, consenting adults, and the relationship is one of a monogamous, covenant, and lasting kind; and
  3. Casual adult homosexuality—homosexuality is an appropriate lifestyle for any member of society provided it involves consenting adults.

In laying out these positions, Webb is simply defining the field of inquiry.  He is not at least initially advocating for any one of these positions.  Near the end of the text, however, he identifies himself as an evangelical egalitarian on women’s issues and argues for a marital hetersexuality only position with respect to homosexuality.

Redemptive-Movement Hermaneutic

An important contribution of Webb’s work is a concept that he calls as a redemptive-movement hermaneutic.  In defining this concept, he outlines a model:  X=>Y=>Z.  The X stands for the original culture;  the Y stands for scripture; and the Z stands for the ultimate ethic (30-33).  This model permits us to ask 2 important questions.  First, does scripture move beyond the cultures of surrounding nations in addressing an issue? (X=>Y)  Second, does scripture point to an ethic beyond that actually embodied in scripture? (Y=>Z)  These 2 questions allow us to isolate the redemptive movement implied in the text of scripture.  Webb uses this model to examine several scriptural passages that today sound bizarre, but which would have been at least slightly redemptive to the original audience.  One example was the taking of female prisoners as spoils of war:

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 ESV)

Attitude about Ugly Texts

Webb (32-33) argues that this is clearly an ugly text in today’s culture [2], but in relation to the customs of ancient times was redemptive in its application under the X=>Y criteria.

Today’s application of the text would not follow the exact words prescribed in the text, but rather to observe the redemptive spirit of the text and draft an appropriately redemptive, modern policy dealing with female captives (33).  Webb describes an attempt to apply the exact words of the scriptural text in a new context as a “static” interpretation (36-38).  Ignoring the redemptive spirit of the text leads to wooden or misleading interpretations and may lead to the text being discredited in the eyes of believers and non-believers alike.  Clearly, much more could be said about this redemptive-movement hermaneutic.

Organization

Webb writes his book in 8 chapters preceded by a foreword, acknowledgments, and an introduction and followed by a conclusion, 4 appendices, a bibliography, and a scriptural index.  The chapters are:

  1. Christian and Culture;
  2. A Redemptive-Movement Hermaneutic;
  3. Cultural/Transcultural Analysis:  A Road Map;
  4. Persuative Criteria;
  5. Moderately Persuasive Criteria;
  6. Inconclusive Criteria;
  7. Persuasive Extracriptural Criteria;
  8. What If I Am Wrong; and
  9. Conclusion:  Arriving at a Bottom Line.

The foreword is written by Darrell L. Bock of the Dallas Theological Seminary [3].

Assessment

Webb’s Slaves, Women and Homosexuals is a readable and engaging text that focuses on applying scripture rather than simply arguing over it.  It is gutsy for a writer to take on the ugly texts of scripture and to find both redemption and application in them.  Personally, my initial response was to reject cultural analysis because it lies outside the twin authorities of scripture and God’s direct revelation.  However, I realized that I was guilty myself of discounting or skipping over the difficult texts rather than engaging them.  In effect, I was already doing cultural analysis, just not employing a consistent method.  This internal struggle led me to reconsider Webb’s analysis.

I am sure that some readers will simply not be able to engage in conversation about politically incorrect topics, but I would challenge them to stretch their own views a bit for the sake of understanding scripture better.  Webb’s own words are helpful when he says:  I must thank our modern culture for raising the issues addressed in this book.  But our cultural only raises the issues…it does not resolve them (245).

Footnotes

[1] http://www.tyndale.ca/faculty/bill-webb

[2] This exact issue was in the news this past week in the Middle East war in Iraq as ISIS fighters rounded up women hostages to the horror of the onlooking world.

[3] http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/dbock.

Webb: Analyzing Culture in Scripture and in Life

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Bonhoeffer: Reframing Christian Community

Dietrick Bonhoeffer, Life TogetherDietrich Bonhoeffer.  1954.  Life Together:  The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (Gemeinsames Leben).  Translated by John W. Doberstein.  New York:  HarperOne.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Gemeinsames Leben was written in 1938, a year after Nachfolge, when Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught in an underground seminary Pomerania, Germany.  At the time, the Confessing Church, which he helped organize, was floundering under Nazi persecution.  While the last part of Nachfolge dealt with the church and life as a disciple, it was highly theological, not a work in practical ecclesiology.  Gemeinsames Leben appears then to address the question: how then can the church remain a faithful witness under persecution by a high-tech, secular culture?

Introduction

Gemeinsames Leben is short consisting of a mere 5 chapters:

  1. Community;
  2. The Day with Others;
  3. The Day Alone;
  4. Ministry; and
  5. Confession and Communion (5).

The book begins with Psalms and ends with the sacrament of communion.  In some sense, the community of God is framed with the word (scripture) and the sacraments—and so it is with Bonhoeffer.

Community

Bonhoeffer starts with a provocative quotation: Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1) Today, it would be considered political incorrect because the translation is literal (brothers, not brothers and sisters).  For Bonhoeffer, it was provocative because the Old Testament was considered un-German, worse, Jewish, by the Nazi, hence forbidden[1].

Bonhoeffer’s second paragraph is no less provocative. He says:

It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies (17).

The mere existence of Christian community is a political statement and: a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer (19).  Bonhoeffer expands on this thought saying:

The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the Triune God (20).

Bonhoeffer reframes the everyday experience of the Christian into the persecuted world in which he finds himself in Nazi Germany.  This is possible only because: We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ (21). Community is also an antidote to self-centered, pretentious dreaming.  Bonhoeffer writes: God is not a God of the emotions, but the God of truth (27).

The Day with Others

Bonhoeffer commends the keeping of the hours. For example, he states: The early morning belongs to the Church of the risen Christ (41).  The psalms are especially meaningful to Bonhoeffer as a model and mode for personal prayer (45).  Here we learn what prayer means, what to pray, and how to pray in fellowship (47-48).  For Bonhoeffer, Christian worship really never stops with continuous readings (50), hymn singing (57), prayer (71), table fellowship (66), and godly work (69).

The Day Alone

For Bonhoeffer, community is not an escape from loneliness—like the television in the psyche ward which is never turned off. He starts his discussion of time alone by saying: Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone (76).  Bonhoeffer (78) commends silence as the mark of solitude (and speech as the mark of community). He sees 3 reasons to be alone during the day: for scriptural meditation, for prayer, and for intercession (81).

Ministry

For Bonhoeffer, ministry begins with humility and restraint. Evil thoughts should not even be dignified with expression (James 3:2; 91) and this evil begins with the discord over who should be in charge (Luke 9:46; 90).  Bonhoeffer offers 3 services in ministry:  listening (97), active helpfulness (99), and burden bearing (100).  If these 3 services are not properly rendered, proclamation of the word is most perilous (104).  Leadership accordingly depends also on these 3 services (108).

Confession and Communion

Sin isolates us both from God and from community.  Bonhoeffer observes:  Sin wants to remain unknown (112).  He sees 2 dangers in confession of sin: first that the one hearing confessions will be overburdened and second that the confessor will try to elevate sin to “pious work” (baptize the sin into acceptance; 120).  The sole objective of confession is absolution, not acceptance.  Bonhoeffer proposes that confession occur the day prior to communion as a necessary step to participating in communion (121).  For this reason, in part, communion is a joyous celebration because the slate has been wiped clean, so to speak.

Assessment

How then can the church remain a faithful witness under persecution by a high-tech, secular culture?  Bonhoeffer does not answer this question in words.  Rather, he answers it by actions—let the church be the church!  And so we should.

Footnote

[1]Eric Metaxis. 2010.  Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson.  Pages 162, 367-368.

Bonhoeffer: Reframing Christian Community

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Metaxas: Bonhoeffer’s Times and Ours 

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Schaeffer Checks the Pulse

Francis A. Schaeffer. 2005.  How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Orig Pub 1976).  Wheaton: Crossway Books.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

As a believer in the risen Christ, life sometimes resembles being stuck in a zombie invasion.  Zombies hate living people and desire their destruction.  Conversation with zombies can be challenging. Still, Christians are called to live sacrificially sharing their very lives with zombies on the hope that they too can live.  Jesus said:

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:24 ESV)

While we were still zombies, Jesus died on the cross for us [1].

The Watchman

How should we then live?

This question taken from Ezekiel 33:10 where Ezekiel reviews his calling as prophet.  In the original call statement, Ezekiel writes:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand… (Ezekiel 3:17-18 ESV)

Ezekiel must prophesy exactly as God instructs or his own salvation is at risk.

This watchman motif motivated Francis Schaeffer to write his book—How should we then live? (257-258) He outlines this motif in the final chapter addressed specifically to Christians.  The chapter begins with a warning against dichotomous thinking:  separating values (non-reason) from reason (255) [2].  This dichotomy has its origins in Greek thought (Platonic dualism; Gnosticism) where the mind (reason) was elevated over the body (values).

Greek Dualism

This re-emergence of dichotomous thinking in the modern era is a Christian heresy, in part, because it rejects the divinity of Christ who was bodily resurrected from the grave. The risen Christ is no ghost (spirit only) and no zombie (body without spirit).  Dichotomous thinking (a kind of schizophrenia) leads one to believe that God can only be approached through emotional experiences or, alternatively, only through theology.  By contrast, the New Testament teaches unity of mind and body—faith and action [3].  For example, James writes:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22-24 ESV)

The splitting of mind and body (or faith from action) robs the Gospel of its power to transform lives and of its moral teaching. By contrast, the resurrection of Christ accredits Jesus’ divinity (Acts 17:31) and lays claim to the whole of us—both our minds and bodies.  Schaeffer especially sees dichotomous thinking leaving us to accept authoritarian rule because it facilitates manipulation (256-257).

Schaeffer’s point about the manipulative potential of dichotomous thinking is like a bad movie re-run.  During the Second World War, for example, economists of the Vienna School justified working for Adolf Hitler through the development of philosophical school called logical positivism.  In this paradigm, politicians set the goals and economists simply find the most efficient way to execute them.  The guard arguing that he was only following orders when gassing prisoners, for example, is applying logical positivism. In this manner, economists (and prison guards) tried to escape moral judgment by making no judgments at all [4].

Organization

Schaeffer’s book is a survey of key philosophical developments in history, politics, and art dating back to ancient Rome.  It is written in 13 chapters:

  1. Ancient Rome;
  2. The Middle Ages;
  3. The Renaissance;
  4. The Reformation;
  5. The Reformation—Continued;
  6. The Enlightenment;
  7. The Rise of Modern Science;
  8. The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science;
  9. Modern Philosophy and Modern Theology;
  10. Modern Art, Music, Literature, and Films;
  11. Our Society;
  12. Manipulation and the New Elite; and
  13. The Alternatives (7).

If you are one of those who think that this is a book written to justify positions of one generation over another, perhaps you should read with particular care.

Reformation’s Influence

For example, the Renaissance and the Reformation occurred at almost the same time—Renaissance thinkers accepted dichotomous thinking while Reformation thinkers refused to (79-81).  Reformation thinkers refused to accept dichotomous thinking and relied on the Bible to discern God’s truth—an absolute standard for ethics.  In some sense, the enlightenment simply revisited this same split.  Dichotomous thinking remains popular today because it supports humanism and relativism [5].

Assessment

In all his writing, Schaeffer covers a lot of ground.  The details of his discussion are fascinating and provide context for understanding the vast changes occurring in our time.  Unless you are a student of Western Civilization, be prepared to be challenged.  How Should We Then Live? is a classic.  Thank you Crossway Books for keeping it in print.

Footnotes

[1] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

[2] Schaeffer felt so strongly about this topic of dichotomous thinking that he wrote an entire book on the subject:  Francis Schaeffer.  2006.  Escape from Reason:  A Penetrating Analysis of Trends in Modern Thinking.  Downers Grove:  IVP Press.

[3] An interesting  example of this integrative principle arises in the biblical idea of beauty.  “Our modern images feature surface and finish; Old Testament images present structure and character.  Modern images are narrow and restrictive; theirs were broad and inclusive…For us beauty is primarily visual; their idea of beauty included sensations of light, color, sound, smell, and even taste” Dyrness, William A. 2001. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, page 81.

[4] Hannah Arendt studied this problem at great length.  For example, read her book:   1987.  The Life of the Mind:  The Groundbreaking Investigation of How We Think.  New York:  Harcourt, Inc.

[5] In Paul’s Letter to the Galatians he confronts the problem of false teachers who added the Gospel of Christ other teaching.  Paul writes:   I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)  In the Galatian context, the added teaching was over-reliance on the Law of Moses.  In our context, the added teaching is primarily philosophical or social.

Schaeffer Checks the Pulse

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Metaxas: Bonhoeffer’s Times and Ours

 

Bonhoeffer

Eric Metaxas. 2010.  Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy—A Righteous Gentile versus the Third Reich.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

High school friends once accused me of being born 16 years old.  Having grown up with Vietnam in the 1960s, questions about war and peace were fought in the streets, on television, and in personal relationships. The day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated my third grade teacher began crying uncontrollably in front of the class. After the King assassination, I witnessed my hometown of Washington DC burning and tanks rolling through its streets.  In trying to understand it all, I turned to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s: The Cost of Discipleship.

Introduction

When Eric Metaxas’ biography—Bonhoeffer—was published in 2010, I immediately bought a copy but working full-time and going to seminary I did not have time to read it.  Or, at least, that is what I told myself.  The truth is that I approached this biography with a bit of fear as to what I might learn about the hero of my youth—and about myself. I first learned a bit about Bonhoeffer’s life when a film by Eric Till appeared in 2000—Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace with Ulrich Tukur [1]—but that was before seminary opened the doors to explore so many forbidden topics in my own history.  Not the least of which was my year as a foreign exchange student in Göttingen, Germany.

Dedication

Metaxas, a German-American, dedicates his book (in German) to his grandfather who was killed in 1944 fighting in reluctant service to his country.  His dedication cites the apostle John:

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40 ESV)

Metaxas looks to the day when he will get to meet his grandfather [2].  For Metaxas and for me, the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was and is highly personal.

Bonhoeffer Biography

The task of writing a complete biography of Bonhoeffer was immense [3].  Bonhoeffer’s persona was complex; his theological writings profound; and his political views veiled and nuanced.  Let me touch on each challenge briefly.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer came from an aristocratic family and was himself extraordinarily talented.  His father was the leading psychiatrist in Germany at the time and his own brother was a noted physicist. Neither were professing Christians and the family did not attend church on a regular basis.  His mother was his most significant religious influence. Dietrich declared his intention to become a theologian at age 14 before he had even been confirmed; he received his doctorate at age 21.  Metaxas pictures Dietrich becoming a committed Christian, much like John Wesley, only after he was already working as a theologian. After Bonhoeffer had made a visit to New York in 1936, Metaxas asks:  What had happened that Bonhoeffer [the brilliant young theologian] should suddenly take attending church so seriously? (124)

Bonhoeffer as Author 

Bonhoeffer is the author of a number of influential books [4] and, along with Swiss theologian Karl Barth (one of the authors of the Barmen Declaration [5]), is credited with starting the neo-orthodox school of thought.  Bonhoeffer laid out important principles of his thinking already in 1928 (age 22) in Barcelona in three points:

  1. …Christianity is not a religion at all, but about the person of Christ…religion was a dead, man-made thing, and at the heart of Christianity was something else entirely—God himself, alive (83).
  2. He differentiated between Christianity…which attempt but fail to make an ethical way for man to climb to heaven…and following Christ, who demands everything (84). and
  3. He identified ‘the Greek spirit’ or ‘humanism’ as ‘the most severe enemy that Christianity ever had…dualism, the idea that the body is at war with the soul (85).

In other words, Christians must only follow Christ; we cannot approach God, only God can reveal Himself to us; and heart and mind cannot be separated in our faith.

Bonhoeffer as Spy

Bonhoeffer, the spy, worked with military intelligence (Abwehr) and was executed late in the war for assisting a plot to kill Hitler. Spies can trust almost no one and cannot reveal their true intentions. The offices of pastor and spy are in strong tension which is a theme in Bonhoeffer’s book, Ethics.

Resistance to the official German Church (Reichskirche) was weak because of state funding, pride, and weak theology.

State Funding

How can a German pastor work against the German government when, in fact, the government pays the pastor’s salary?  It was only Bonhoeffer’s deep faith expressed in his theology allowed him to overcome the tendency to look the other way and to do nothing—martyrdom is obviously not a feel-good thing.  Only when heart and mind work together is faith strong enough to endure a winter of rainy days.  Obviously, many German pastors could not follow Bonhoeffer’s lead.

The role of finance in theology cannot be easily set aside.  American churches are not state funded, but are instead given tax breaks.  Private donors are, however, much more fully present in the lives of American pastors.  Metaxas notes, for example, that after John Emerson Fosdick began preaching views at variance with the Apostle’s Creed in the 1920s and was subject to Presbytery investigation, John D. Rockefeller build a church for him and made sure he are called to pastor it (101-102).  By this standard, state financing by a normally sleepy bureaucracy does not seem nearly so intrusive.

Pride Offended

In fact, a major theme in Metaxas’ narrative in 31 chapters is the German church’s almost total capitulation to Nazi rule.  Germans were deeply shamed by their treatment by the allies at the end of World War I.  When Hitler restored German pride in seizing France, he became a pseudo messianic figure.  It is probably not an accident, for example, that the Barmen Declaration was authored primarily by a Swiss theologian (Karl Barth), not a German one.

American pride is also a factor in its relationship with government.  Political parties and interest groups are not indifferent to the views represented from the pulpit. What better way to promote a political agenda than to have it endorsed by pastors claiming (unmitigated by an orthodox reading of the biblical text) that it is God’s will?  In turn, the pastors can claim that they influenced government policy.  The pastor of my home church resigned at one point to write a book about this very subject [6].

Weak Theology

Theologians who questioned the divinity of Christ, such as Schleiermacher and von Harnack, reduced German theological study to nothing more than careful exposition of ancient texts.  German worship descended into a litany of religious formalities and cultural tradition (59-61).  If faith is no more than half-hearted adherence to tradition, where is the power and authority to oppose evil?

American Visit

Bonhoeffer’s visits to America especially disappointed him because even the seminaries lacked theological rigor and the Gospel was rarely preached.  For example, Bonhoeffer wrote his friend Max Diestal from New York in 1930:  There is no theology here… they talk a blue streak without the slightest substantive foundation and no evidence of any criteria (101).  Bonhoeffer did, however, find solace in African American worship and Gospel singing (110).

Assessment

Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer is both a page turner and a deep meditation.  It provides both the personal and the German historical context for reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s books.  The length of the book is necessary to accomplish the goal of being thorough and complete.  Metaxas is also helpful for reclaiming the historical Bonhoeffer from groups wanting to piggy-back on his popularity as an opponent to Adolf Hitler while spinning his story and theology to suit other agendas [7].  This biography is likely to remain the standard by which other biographies are measured.

Footnotes

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulrich_Tukur

[2] http://harpers.org/blog/2010/12/dietrich-bonhoeffer-six-questions-for-eric-metaxas

[3] Metaxas appears to have written his biography in the encomium form which has 4 parts:  1. Origins and Birth, 2. Nurture and Training, 3. Accomplishments and Deeds, and 4. Comparison (Jerome H. Neyrey. 1998. Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.  Page 79).

[4] I have personally read several—The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, Creation and Fall, and Ethics.

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmen_Declaration.

[6] Richard G. Hutcheson, Jr.  1988.  God in the White House:  How Religion Has Changed the Modern Presidency.  New York:  MacMillan Publishing Company. (http://wapo.st/1lbwu1h)

[7] The translation of Bonhoeffer’s Nachfolge as The Cost of Discipleship is a possible example of this spin.  Nachfolge literally means to “follow after” in German which points to God, consistent with Bonhoeffer’s first two Barcelona principles.  The Cost of Discipleship, which points more to us (a more humanistic interpretation) emphasizes Bonhoeffer’s doctrine of “cheap grace”.

Metaxas: Bonhoeffer’s Times and Ours

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Vaughn: Cherishing Time God’s Way

Ellen Vaughn, Time Peace
 

Ellen Vaughn.  2007.  Time Peace: Living Here and Now with a Timeless God.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra [1]

Ellen Vaughn starts her book, Time Peace, with a question:  How can an earth-bound person really connect with an eternal God? Does God’s Shalom rub off on the people we meet every day or are we afflicted with hurry sickness? (16-17)  If our lives are deprived of Shalom and dominated by hurry sickness, what can be done about it?

Ellen segments the time problem into 4 parts:

  1. Experiencing Time;
  2. Managing Time;
  3. Re-viewing Time:  A New Paradigm; and
  4. Enjoying Time.

God’s perspective on time is different than ours. God manages time; time manages us.  For us, a wristwatch serves as a kind of virtual handcuff (61).  God is eternal and the stars serve as his wrist-watch (Job 9:3-9; 19).

The biblical notion of stewardship: doesn’t really strike a cord with many 21-century Americans (74). Ellen asks: whether we live to the age of of 34 or 104, how do we use the time we are given? (77)  The biblical view of time (stewardship) is in strong tension with our everyday experience of time (the wristwatch)?

Reviewing many details of quantum physics, Ellen notes that science does not seem to explain the created universe as neatly as we learned in high school.  She remarks:

I do find it interesting that in the Bible…that is thousands of years old…[it] casually makes claims that seem to jibe with what is intimated in the weird world of 21st century quantum physics (187).

When we experience the eternal God, God must deliberately break into our time-bound world to touch our lives.  We experience God’s intrusion as a kairos momenta Greek word describing a moment of crisis and decision [2].  Our usual experience of timechronos time as measure by our watchesis not nearly so threatening.

In evaluating how to enjoy time, Ellen asks:  How do we seize the moment and invest time to extend God’s kingdom? (206)

In her book, Time Peace, Ellen’s writing craft is displayed in at least 4 dimensions:

  1. She does her homework. In researching time as a topic, she reviewed film, time management books, scripture, and scientific literature. I suspect that she also did a number of interviews.
  2. She paints wonderful mental pictures and tells numerous stories. I will never forget her lesson on the six deadly sins and how they relate to Gilligan’s Island (8) [3].
  3. She is willing to take theological and intellectual risks. Most Luke commentaries do not offer alternative readings of the Mary and Martha story. Likewise, I suspect that most English majors do not write extensively on Einstein’s theory of relativity and string theory.
  4. She throws curve balls in her prose. I doubt, for example, that she really sits much on the beach throwing alka seltzer tablets in the air to the sea gulls, but the thought is interesting.

Time Peace is perceptive, theologically engaging, and witty. Small groups will want to look at it for study and discussion.

Footnotes

[1]  Ellen Vaughn (www.EllenVaughn.com) is a local author who I met in 2007 at a meeting of the Capital Christian Writers Club (www.CapitalChristianWriters.org).

[2] I was personally touched by her story about Vicky Armel, a police officer gunned down for no apparent reason within walking distance of my home in Centreville, Virginia.  Only 2 years prior to her death, Vicky unexpectedly committed her life to Christa kairos moment. Her testimony was recorded on Easter Sunday.  Vicky accordingly had the rare privilege of addressing her own funeral via video tape (183-185).

[3] Ellen writes:  Students of the show advance the theory that the Professor exhibits the deadly sin of pride…Ginger, the lascivious movie star, represents lust.  Envy goes to Maryann who wanted to be Ginger. Thurston Howell the Third, who took a large trunck full of money on a three-hour cruise, is greed.  Since Mrs Howell never did much of anything at all, she is sloth…We are left with the sins of anger and gluttony, and the mad and corpulent Skipper personifies them both (88).

Vaughn: Cherishing Time God’s Way

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Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

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Dyck: A Tiger is no Pussy-cat

Tiger_review_07182014Drew Nathan Dyck [1]. 2014. Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Economists, who work in the world on worldly matters, often chide at the anti-intellectual attitude that often limits objective problem solving.  This is not a new problem.  Writing in 1936 in the middle of the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes famously wrote:   Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist [2].  This same anti-intellectualism, of course, also shows up in the church as an overt bias against ideas that sound vaguely like theology.

In his book, Yawning at Tigers, Drew Nathan Dyck observes:

…we need to be reminded of God’s love … [but] Rarely do we hear about God’ mystery and majesty, let alone whisper a word about his wrath (3).

Furthermore, he observes:

The truth is that God is radically different from us, in degree and kind.  He is ontologically dissimilar, wholly other, dangerous, alien, holy, and wild (5).

The problem here is inherently theological.  We are comfortable with God’s love, an attribute of an immanent God, but profoundly uncomfortable with a Holy God, an attribute of a transcendent God. Dyck’s point is that an infatuation with God’s love has led to neglect of His other attributes.

As Christians, we confess that God is both immanent (near us as in the Holy Spirit and like us as in Jesus Christ) and transcendent (above us and removed from us as in God the Father).  Dyck (99) cites the Prophet Jeremiah:

Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV)

The problem that faces the church is that in refusing to debate theology, perhaps due to an obsession with our own emotions, we may inadvertently adopt theologies that we would not choose, if we spent more time thinking about it.

In Dyck’s case, he worries that a domesticated God (totally immanent) lacks the power required to deal with life’s challenges.  Power is an attribute of transcendence.  If God is no longer almighty (holy, sovereign), then He is also no longer interesting—kids need not attend church.  He’s safe but irrelevant.  Dyck (6) observes:  We ask God to keep us safe, not realizing that it is from him we most need protecting [3].

A teddy bear god is of no use in a world populated with tigers—clearly, much more could be said.

Yawning at Tigers covers a lot of ground in 12 chapters:

  1. Divine Invasion;
  2. Beyond the Shallows;
  3. The God Worth Worshipping;
  4. A Vision of Holiness;
  5. Dangerous Living;
  6. God Incognito;
  7. Loving a Lion;
  8. Tenacity and Tenderness;
  9. Intimate Beginnings;
  10. Face-to-Face:
  11. Jesus in the Shadows; and
  12. The Fragrance of Eternity (viii).

These chapters are bracketed by an introduction (The Greatest Adventure) and a follow up discussion guide.  Dyck is well read and has traveled widely during his career.  This makes his narrative writing style both interesting and accessible; a masters in theology makes his writing engaging. He is currently the managing editor of the Leadership Journal [4] and author of Generation Ex—Christians:  Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith…and How to Bring them Back [5].

Footnotes

[1] www.DrewDyck.com.

[2] A fuller reference is:  “… the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back …”John Maynard Keynes. 1936. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. (383–84).

[3] Or as the Bible says:  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 ESV)

[4] The Leadership Journal is associated with Christianity Today (www.christianitytoday.com/le).

[5] www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/evangelism/youngadultsleavingfaith.html

Dyck: A Tiger is no Pussy-cat

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Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

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Turansky and Miller: Hope for Parents

Parenting_review_07162014Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.  2013.  The Christian Parenting Handbook:  50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to get married and have a family.  This meant that my career had to finance a house and allow my wife, Maryam, to stay at home with the kids.  As the economic ground shifted under our feet early in my career, this objective consumed much too much of my time.  Meanwhile, supports in society and in the church for parents raising kids were mostly obsolete or non-existent.  In this family-hostile environment, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller’s The Christian Parenting Handbook comes as welcome relief.

Turansky and Miller focus on identifying and enhancing character development, not behavior modification, from a biblical perspective.  They advance 6 principles:

  1. Begin with prayer, asking for wisdom, grace, patience, and perseverance;
  2. Build on a biblical foundation;
  3. Think long term focusing on patterns that reveal issues of the heart;
  4. Watch for variations on a theme;
  5. Focus strategically and leave less important issues for another time; and
  6. Look for internal stumbling blocks that hold up development.

They return to these principles throughout the book but do not simply present an analytical framework.  They write the book in 50 chapters focusing each on a particular issue or idea.  Early on they cite the Apostle Paul:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8 ESV)

By focusing on heart issues, Turansky and Miller go beyond applied psychology and the how-to suggestions that are usually given parents and think about parenting differently.  Their claim to offer a Christian approach to parenting is not lite fluff.  This point becomes clear when they compare their ideas to the more typical advice to parents.

For example, in chapter 1, Consistency is Overrated, they compare a heart-focus to the usual behavioral modification approach which insists on consistency.  Behavioral modification requires consistency because it is based on stimulus—response theory.  Each time a stimulus (reward or punishment) is applied, the same response is solicited.  But the Christian parent does not want the child to do what’s right because a reward is given (or punishment avoided)—they want the child to desire to do right—a change in their hearts (2-3).  Consistency is often inappropriate when focusing on the heart because each child is different.

In chapter 2, Build Internal Motivation, they compare internal and external motivation as parenting strategies.  External motivation argues:  if you do X, then I will let you do Y (5). The problem with external motivation is that children learn to expect a reward for good behavior.  By contrast, God told Samuel in selecting a new king for Israel:  For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).  In a heart-based approach, the parent shares values and reasons behind rules while remaining relational and firm (6).  In discipline, the parent expresses sorrow, not anger (7).  External motivations are used primarily to encourage internal motivation (8).

In chapter 3 Turansky and Miller continue this theme advising parents to focus on reinforcing good behavior rather than simply harping about bad behavior. Character qualities to look out for include:  obedience, honor, perseverance, attentiveness to others, patience, self-discipline, and gratefulness (16).  In observing problem behaviors, the idea is to link it to a character quality that needs more development (16-17).  In discipling towards character changes they advise parents to tie the return of a privilege to positive actions, not the absence of bad behaviors (12).

Clearly, this book offers a lot of good advice [1].

Turansky and Miller’s The Christian Parenting Handbook is not your typical parenting advice book.  In focusing on heart changes, they avoid the usual child expert and child psychology advice. Their application of biblical teaching is at the core of their thinking, not just a decoration of their own ideas with Bible passages.  Consequently, their approach to applying biblical teaching extends beyond the realm of parenting.

As I was reading through Turansky and Miller, I kept thinking:  oh my goodness, my kids are 20 something and this book was not available to me when I needed it. Turansky and Miller anticipated this reaction.  They offer encouragement—never give up on your kids.  God can change a person at any age by working on the heart (204).  It is never too late—God can change parents too.

Footnotes

[1] Turansky and Miller are founders of the National Center of Biblical Parenting and Biblical Parenting University (www.BiblicalParentingUniversity.com).

Turansky and Miller: Hope for Parents

Also see:

Hamaker on Sibling Rivalry 

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

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Jackson and Football Dreams

Jackson_review

Nate Jackson.  2013.  Slow Getting Up:  A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile.  New York:  HarperCollins Publishers.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The best manager that I ever worked with, who later became a good friend, knew how to motivate his staff—he focused on their aspirations.  He worked the dream.  The job was not about the money;  it was not about agency goals; it was not about the team; it was not even about the work per se; it was about the dream.  In spite of an oppressive work environment where we were ignored and our work forgotten, he kept the dream alive and we loved him.  In his book, Slow Getting Up, Nate Jackson talks about living the football dream.

Introduction

What is the football dream?  Jackson writes:

A footback dream is easy to spot.  Turn on SportsCenter and they’ll show what it looks like.  Tom Brady’s life.  Peyton Manning’s life.  Fairy tales.  Storybooks.  The football dream I had as a child unfolded much differently.  But it has still unfolded.  Every crease and every line, every grunt and every pop.  I’m playing the game I love. The grass is still green, the hits still hurt, and the ball in flight is still the most beautiful sight I know.  I will chase it to the ends of the earth (69).

The dream justifies every sacrifice, every injury, every set back.  Along with the dream comes a cool uniform, TV time, money, respect, easy sex, and all the things that go with it.  The dream and its evil twin—the nightmare—battle for our attention throughout Jackson’s book.

Mom Factor

Sprinkled throughout the book are references to mom—the silent, ever-present observer.  For example, on signing his first National Football League (NFL) contract, Jackson blurts out:  Look, Ma, I’m a 49er! (15).  This comment seems like a throw-away cliché the first couple times it appears, but then Jackson writes:

My mom has three criteria that she uses to judge a game.  One, did I stay healthy?  Two, was I happy with my performance? Three, did we win?  Moms are ahead of the curve.  The NFL is momless (178-179).

NFL players chase the dream; NFL moms live the nightmare.

Tension between the Dream and the Nightmare

This tension between dream and nightmare fuels Jackson’s plot.  The sagas of the games compete with injury reports to build excitement—will the NFL sign Jackson another season or will his injuries permanently disqualify him ?  Injury report after injury report chronicles his career from 2002 with the 49ers to 2003-2008 with the Denver Broncos.  While the career continues, the bloom is off the rose after Darrent Will is shot to death after a Broncos game in 2006 (130).  Jackson writes:  After D-Will died I sank into a hole (133).  The nightmare finally gets the upper-hand over the dream—the dream was no longer enough (134).

Organization

In Slow Getting Up Jackson writes an autobiographical account of his 6 years in the NFL in 12 chapters.  These chapters are preceded by a prologue describing his last days as a professional football player and followed by a short acknowledgments section which describes his writing career.  Although Jackson has written for a number of periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal [1], this is his first book.

Jackson is an accomplished writer whose autobiography reads like an action thriller.  This is because he pays attention to pacing and salts his personal story with skillfully articulated character sketches of the people that populate his life.  He is coy about telling the reader that he is a Christian [2], but it comes out in his account of prayers in the showers—written in the third person—where the entire Lord’s Prayer is recited (171-172).

Allegory

Interestingly, Slow Getting Up can be read as an allegory symbolizing the dark underside of the postmodern era.  An era where work is just a text away, image matters more than reality, and masculinity is defined by doing stupid things just because you can. To see this, reflect on the Apostle Paul’s description of the old self and the new self in Christ:

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV).

In this reading, football dreams are actually a nightmare masquerading as something positive. You think that you control your life—your fate—but it is an obsession wrapped in a brazen lie. The old self thrives, dominates, and poisons our life because we love the illusion of self-determination. This is Paul’s old self.

But as the truth keeps interjecting itself into our lives, the nightmare slowly emerges in full horror.  We discover that, not only are we not in control, we cannot even break out of the chains that we have forged for ourselves in our obsession. For Jackson, the nightmare manifests itself when he finds himself playing football for the Las Vegas Locos stripped of his youth & health and offered little compensation or future prospects (235). Only God through Jesus Christ can remove those chains and set us free.  This is Paul’s new self in Christ.

By highlighting the old self, Jackson invites us to consider something new, something better.  Thank you Nate.

Footnotes

[1] www.WSJ.com.

[2] Christian quarterback, Tim Tebow, played for the Denver Broncos after Jackson retired during 2010-2012 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Tebow).

Jackson and Football Dreams

Also see:

Tebow Encourages Those Shaken  

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

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