Showing posts from 2011

From James A. K. Smith: (Liberal) Skepticism vs. (Orthodox) Doubt

I found this brief essay clarifying and worthwhile. It came to me first through the "Koinonia" blog. All of us struggle at times with doubt. Let's be clear about what we mean. Click on the link above for the full essay. TFJ

Fors Clavigera: (Liberal) Skepticism vs. (Orthodox) Doubt: There are certain streams of "emerging" Christianity which seem to think that doubt is some revolutionary new stance that has finally had pe...

"Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God"

I pass along to you this wonderful essay by the great Christian teacher, Simone Weil. If you are unfamiliar with her as a person, see the Wikipedia link:

Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God
by Simone Weil

* From Waiting for God, trans. by Emma Craufurd New York: Harper and Row, 1951

THE KEY TO A CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF STUDIES is the realization that prayer consists of attention. It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable toward God. The quality of the attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer. Warmth of heart cannot make up for it

The highest part of the attention only makes contact with God, when prayer is intense and pure enough for such a contact to be established; but the whole attention is turned toward God.

Of course school exercises only develop a lower kind of attention. Nevertheless, they are extremely effective in increasing the power o…

My Life in Baseball


My earliest memories of baseball haunt the side yard of the "farm" I grew up on in Troy, Michigan. Most of our 12-acre property was a corn field or lay fallow, but about two acres was laid out like the diagram below.

On this field we played softball . . . carefully. Breaking windows in the house in shallow center field could result in the neighborhood season being canceled, at least until the window was fixed and paid for out of our meager allowance. So, we all, including we right-handed hitters, learned to hit to right field (a skill that came in handy later in church league softball!). You could also pull the ball to left field, but not too deep, so you wouldn't get a muck ball from the leaky sewage drain field. (How did we not get hepatitis, dysentery, hoof and mouth disease, or some other noxious crud? But we didn't.) The barn made a decent backstop, though you had to stay out of Mom's rhubarb that grew along the barn near home plate.


Big Brain in the Main

June 1, 2011
Big Brain in the Main
This week researchers at Duke University (my doctoral alma mater!) discovered that the brains of mainline church members are larger than the brains of born-again-ers, Roman Catholics, and unbelievers. See
This research suits me to a tee. I now know why I left fundamentalism years ago, am moving away from evangelicalism, and can’t quite make the leap either to unbelief or the Catholic Church. I have too much gray matter. My hippocampus is hippo, nay elephantine! I don’t feel smarter or look smarter than other Christians, but apparently, being mainline, I am.
It is a little suspicious that this research was done at Duke, a United Methodist affiliated university, by scientists who may well be mainliners themselves. I wonder if they tested their own brains and correlated that to their theological/denominational location. And another thing: did Stanley Hauerwas have anything to do with this stu…

"A Wideness in God's Mercy: Universalism inn the Bible"

This posting is a version of my essay “A Wideness in God’s Mercy: Universalism in the Bible,” Universal Salvation? The Current Debate. Edited by R. A. Parry and C. H. Partridge (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 2003), pp. 77-102. Excerpted with permission of Paternoster Press. This essay was reprinted in a book of the same title published in the U.S. by William B. Eerdmans, Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI. Readers are encouraged to buy and read the whole book, which features lead essays by Thomas Talbott, and especially the essay by I. Howard Marshall, which takes a point of view contrastive with mine. Universalism in the BibleThomas F. JohnsonI. IntroductionA. Definitions and understandings
The Bible teaches the universal saving and sovereign grace of God, who, out of love for all people and all creation, has provided ultimate reconciliation and restoration for all. While the Bible affirms the awful possibility that some may reject God’s love and be lost, it also allows us to hope that no…