We’ve all been there. Rapid-fire rejection. Unrelenting criticism.
We find ourselves with our backs to the wall. Our nights spent staring at the ceiling. Curled into a ball on the couch. Our hearts wanting to jump out of our chest.
We’ve all been there. Rapid-fire rejection. Unrelenting criticism.
We find ourselves with our backs to the wall. Our nights spent staring at the ceiling. Curled into a ball on the couch. Our hearts wanting to jump out of our chest.
I’ve taken to reading all the books that my father has left behind. The ones we kept. He had a small library of Westerns I would never stomach. So I gave them away.
I kept his books on philosophy, economics, the Civil War, Theodore Roosevelt, the Founding Fathers and George Patton.
About fifty in all.
It’s seven years today since he died. And I’ve only read one of the books he inherited. [Read more…]
Last week I published a monster cheat sheet to John Owen’s Mortification of Sin in Believers.
As promised here is a list of reasons why every Christian should read the original book.
Ask most Christians and they don’t have a clue what you mean when you say “mortification of sin.” When you explain that that means “to kill sin,” most Christians still won’t know what to do with that.
Aren’t we saved by grace? Don’t we ask forgiveness when we do sin? Isn’t that killing sin?
No. Owen will tell you that killing sin is the pre-emptive act of dealing with our sin–not coping with its fruit. It is laying the axe to the root of sin, before it blossoms.
This is mortification of sin, and, as Owen’s main text says, the duty of every believer: “If ye through the Holy Spirit mortify the flesh ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
In response to the USA Today article “Has the Notion of Sin Been Lost?,” Albert Mohler said, “We are reminded yet again that an understanding of sin is preliminary to understanding the Gospel. The magnitude of our sin explains the necessary magnitude of Christ’s atonement.”
If we have a low view of sin, then we will have a low view of God’s holiness and Christ’s work on the cross.
And that is a dangerous place to be in.
Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” for “it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins.”
Jesus said, “For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Yet, do we not think that we are capable of doing everything? That something peculiar to us as an individual allows us to conquer anything we put our minds to? And are we not taught this precept in our schools, advertisements and even our churches?
Of course this not peculiar to Americans. We are all in love with ourselves and think we are special and superior–even to God. We may even go as far as to say that we are personally worth the sacrifice Jesus made.
Owen will break you of this. Again and again. Which is good because an elevated sense of self is a deception that can harden the heart and destroy the soul.
We are put to death in Christ–a death that paid the penalty for our sins. Yet when we ignore sin, neglect its mortification or diminish its threat we not only damage His saint and wound Christ afresh, but we also gratify His enemy.
Owen wants us to shiver in shame at this thought.
The blood of Christ is used to cleanse us, the exaltation of Christ is meant for repentance and the doctrine of grace teaches us to deny ungodliness. The false believer, however, uses these principles to approve of sin.
Mortification of sin is warfare. And it is constant. So it makes sense that we would study sin and know our enemy. That enemy never rests. He never wearies. And wants nothing more than our death.
And we must know the policies and depth of our sins. To be ignorant of the ways of sin and Satan is to be vulnerable to sin and Satan. We must know where the strength of our sin lies–and then put it to death.
Owen knows sin, the enemy and the world. His psychological insights on the human condition are just as penetrating as are his theological ones.
Sin cannot be mortified apart from the Holy Spirit. This is a relentless theme in Mortification. In fact, Owen demonstrates to do so will only lead to chronic misery and failure or elevation of self and hardening of heart to God and others.
Both conditions are deadly.
Instead, the Holy Spirit is “that excellent succour which God hath given us against our greatest enemy,” and he alone is our strength, shield and shelter in our combat with sin.
Throughout the coming months I will continue to write posts on particular points in Mortification. It is that rich and deserves expansion.
In the meantime, read Mortification (there are links at the top of the page to different formats of the book) if you haven’t already. It would be great to discuss this book with you.
And if you already have read it, what are some other reasons every Christian should read it? I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you liked what you read subscribe to Fallen and Flawed. Then share on Facebook and Twitter.
Nolan Hamilton, author of Gawker article, holding battle flag.
In a feature article for Gawker called My Kasual Kounrty Weekend with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, writer Hamilton Nolan unfolds the weekend he spent attending an event called 2012 Faith and Freedom Conference.
It was at the KKK’s modest headquarters outside Harrison, AK.
Just two or three paragraphs into the article and “revulsion” is a good moniker for what you feel about this meetup.
Sickness at the pit of your stomach is another.
But it’s not so much toward the leader of the Knights, this Pastor Rob Thomas whom I suggested you have a lot in common with. It’s toward everyone he voluntarily surrounds himself with that makes you want to vomit.
See, Pastor Rob, who took the organization over after David Duke left in the 80s, is not only a svelte dresser and soft-spoken speaker, but a man you might not mind calling grandfather.
Think of “Pat Robertson mixed with Wilford Brimley” who loves the white race.
In fact, he likes his race so much he would rather just spend all of his time with them. And no one else. In a way, he’s not any more racist than Al Sharpton, a claim Pastor Rob makes him self.
His position, however, as Nolan points out, is NOT shared by the Knights.
His own daughter, Rachel Pendergraft, is a blonde white supremacist fireball who wrapped up her speech with a fierce “White Power!” To boot, she used the word “nigger” mercilessly and even praised Hitler.
One speaker ended his speech by passing around Arizona Ice Tea and Skittles to commemorate the death of Trayvon Martin.
That’s all pretty mild compared to Paul Fromm.
According to Nolan, Fromm looked the part of frazzled professor. But don’t let the country drawl, Canadian accent or professor get-up fool you.
He was the extremist of the extreme. He elevated the hate rhetoric like no one else.
He is staunch anti-immigration crusader, believer that all black men are thugs, all black women are prostitutes and blacks in general are less intelligent than whites.
And here’s the kicker. Nolan writes:
…these people genuinely consider themselves good Christians—devout, even, willing to sacrifice earthly economic and social status in order to live a life that they consider to be righteous.
Something strange is a foot.
Credit to Nolan, a non-Christian, who plainly saw that there had to be abuses of biblical texts to justify their positions. He couldn’t tell you which ones, but he knew enough to call their bluff.
What’s interesting about Nolan is his sense of morality. He clearly calls the Klan out, but on what grounds? And who gets to make those grounds?
I don’t dispute his claims.
But I’m certain where our sense of morality originates is not the same. I believe in a sense of absolute truth and morality. Does he?
Throughout the article Nolan rides his high horse. Like he knows the truth. He clearly sees the elephant for what it is while the blind Klansmen are way off the mark. So does that mean he believes in an objective sense of truth?
Of course I read the piece on my high horse. And I’m sure as many–if not all–readers would.
It seems easy to see the stupidity behind such a movement. It seems easy to cast a finger at a Paul Fromm or Rachel Pendergraft or Pastor Rob Thomas. And it’s easy to dismiss them “as a bunch of sorely misguided and ignorant unfortunates who’ve been too sheltered with their own kind to know any better.”
But that’s the particular trap of self-righteousness.
It’s the age-old “at least I’m not as bad as blank.” In this case “blank” equals a Klansmen.
And as long as we level our eyes at other men and women–as long as truth is a sliding scale–we look pretty darn good.
When we look at an objective truth like Jesus Christ, on the other hand, we see a sinless man. The holy God.
He obeyed all laws, a work that culminated in his death on the cross.
A death that accomplished something you and I could never do on our own: justification before the throne of God.
Me, you, Hamilton Nolan…Pastor Rob Thomas. We all stand condemned before God.
We all share this in common. We all deserve punishment…if not for the Messiah.
But if truth is some relative code we manipulate to suit our needs, then none of us can raise a finger at the Klan. Their version of truth deserves just as much room in the public square as Nolan’s, mine and yours. And without ridicule. No matter how extreme the belief.
And that’s scary.
Share your thoughts. Brutal and all.
Just the other day I caught wind of a very curious blog.
It was Octavius Winslow’s. Yeah, the 19th century Puritan pastor.
The guy’s blogging.
Okay. Okay. HE’S not really blogging.
Someone else is blogging for him.
Someone else is amassing his body of work, sharing chunks of his sermons and exploring the life of this overlooked Reformed preacher.
Granted, this is nothing new.
Blogs devoted to bringing attention to near-forgotten pillars of the Puritan-cum-Calvinist persuasion have been cropping up for the past couple of years.
But this shouldn’t surprise us either. We are in the age of new Calvinism and its patrons are simply doing their duty.
The MO for these blogs is simple: collect into one place the works of largely forgotten Reformed theologians and preachers.
It’s not an easy task. Some of these guys works are out of print–and inaccessible. So a big hardy thanks to the men who run these blogs.
Enjoy the list.
Stephen Charnock Charnock didn’t live long enough to see his best work–The Existence and Attributes of God–published. Then again, I doubt he cared. He was a preaching machine with one mandate: Meticulously define God. I’d say he did it.
Octavius Winslow I didn’t know who this cat was until I stumbled upon his blog. According to Matthew Blair [who, by the way, is also a dog groomer and ex-atheist!], he was a prolific Puritan writer and preacher who wonderfully described the Christian life as a pilgrimage. Nice pick me up for those dark days.
J. C. Ryle Vigorous preacher and father of five children, John Charles Ryle pastored a church in England for over 38 years. He’s best loved for his uncompromising evangelical doctrine and expository preaching of the Gospels. Erik Kowalker steers this Puritan’s hand.
John Owens This 17th Century Puritan heavyweight stands in the shadow of Jonathan Edwards. But many agree–he’s Edwards’ peer. Owens manhandled the English countryside with stirring declarations of the supremacy of Christ and is best known forThe Mortification of Sin. Justin Taylor mans this blog.
Herman Bavinck While not a Puritan, he’s a Reformed theologian of the first rank. He’s also German and dead. Good enough for this list. Tony Reinke takes up the cause for this stout theologian who produced some tremendous volumes–like Reformed Dogmatics and the Doctrine of God.
Charles Spurgeon This man hardly needs an introduction. And while he’s not a Puritan–his roots are. Phil Johnson stuffs this website with Spurgeon sermons, devotions books–and even authentic writings by the Prince of Preachers.
Jonathan Edwards Not a blog, but a website run by Yale University. A website that will make you drool if you’re an Edwards fan. Yale’s claim to fame here–a definitive collection of Edwards’ works. “Prolific” is an understatement.
Okay: Who did I miss? What Puritan, Pilgrim or near-forgotten Reformer have I overlooked? Please share. I want to expand this list. Help me fill in the blanks.
And by the way, where are the Puritan women? Got any ideas? I’d like to add them to the list, too. I appreciate your help.
You’re probably wondering what a 20th century Princeton-trained abstract mathematician has in common with a Babylonian ruler who reigned around 600 B.C.
Not much, really.
Except they both went mad.
And that’s the connection I want to explore.
Here’s how Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar’s descent into madness:
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”
While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
It’s evident that Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind. And while John Nash didn’t crawl on all fours and eat grass, he, too, lost his mind.
I tell you all this because I recently finished reading Sylvia Nasser’s biography of John Nash–A Beautiful Mind.
It was a gritty, 400-page narrative of schizophrenia–with Nash as the protagonist–that traveled from the nastiness of his narcissism to the brutality of his mental illness to the humility of his remission.
And throughout this very readable book I could not shake the comparison between Nash’s descent into madness with Nebuchadnezzar’s.
This is not what I’m saying: God used schizophrenia as an act of judgment against John Nash. I cannot demonstrate that at all.
All I’m saying is that it could be–as it was so obviously for Nebuchadnezzar. But this much is true: the depth of megalomania and hubris in each man was vast and ultimately led to their insanity.
Nebuchadnezzar reveling in his majestic glory and dictatorial demands for idol worship and John Nash exalting his mathematical genius and rubbing his status as a scientific giant into the noses of his subordinates [whom he thought was just about everyone].
The warning we need to walk away from both of these men’s stories [and Nebuchadnezzar’s in particular] is that we are all prone to self-sufficiency, self-supremacy and self-exaltation…
And when we push the limits of these areas we are in great and grave danger of judgment–possibly in this life, definitely in the next.
But more importantly we must remember this: Christ alone is supreme. Christ alone is to be exalted and worshiped. And in Christ alone do we find our ultimate sufficiency.
In the end, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by his madness. As was Nash. But Nebuchadnezzar praised God for his restoration…
He said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
As far as I know, John Nash did not praise God. In fact, he talked about willing his way into rationality.
Whatever the case might be, I hope that Nash did in fact give God glory for his recovery–but that piece of news has simply been left unreported.
Until then I pray for Nash’s soul.
And yours, that you would resist pride with a ferocious and fantastic tenacity and instead adore the only being in this universe who deserves our praise–Jesus Christ.
Ever hear anyone complain that academics are divorced from reality?
That theorists would simply collapse in shock if they ever stepped down from their ivory tower into the dirty world of human beings?
That some professors are educated beyond their usefulness?
That scholars are cut off from emotion, compassion and spiritual devotion?
Granted, there’s a lot of truth behind these complaints.
Intellectuals tend to elevate the mind over the heart, making the pursuit of doctorates more important than people.
But not all academics fall to this temptation. Take David Platt for example.
At first glance, you could level those accusations at David Platt.
He earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Georgia. He followed that up with three advanced degrees.
But he wasn’t finished.
He added a doctor of philosophy from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary [NOBTS] to his curriculum vitae.
He then served as dean of chapel and assistant professor of expository preaching and apologetics at NOBTS.
The man is a highly accomplished academic. [And as an arm-chair intellectual, he scares me.]
Naturally, you’d expect his book Radical to read like a professional journal. But it doesn’t.
Here’s what can’t be missed: Platt gets around.
His book is shaped by his overseas mission trips to places like India and Indonesia.
It’s influenced by his time as pastor at the Church at Brook Hills.
And it’s predisposed to sound a lot like John Piper–the quintessential scholar-turned-pastor–who obviously impacted Platt.
All this serves to make Platt firmly grounded in the dirty business of human beings, compassionate to the bone and ridiculously eager to make disciples.
Which in turn makes Radical a book anyone could read.
You won’t get lost in this book. Neither will you have to re-read any sentences. In fact, you’ll almost get bored.
But at that moment when you’re tempted to close the book, Platt pulls you back in. He does this in a handful of ways.
He might draw out a beautiful analogy about the church being a troop carrier turned luxury liner.
Or a gripping story about a young, intelligent woman killed in a bizarre bus accident while she served Palestinian refugees in Egypt.
Or a potent scene where believers in China begged him to teach them the Old Testament…and ten days later to teach them the New.
While all these things make for a good read we have to remember that Platt argues from a very simple platform: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A platform he demonstrates you don’t need a degree to preach. Or a doctorate to understand.
Just a heart that hungers to lose it’s will in the will of God and no longer desires anything for himself–except the glory of God.
And it’s just this kind of heart that drives the hardcore academic David Platt.
Women. Ah. My favorite subject.
Especially since I’m married to arguably the most merciful, kind and generous woman of all.
Indeed. Any amount of success I have as a father, writer or husband I owe to her.
The running joke around our house is that if not for my wife, I’d still be living with my mother.
In her basement.
Dead serious. My wife is classic helper. Classic companion. I’d be lost without her.
But what does “helper” mean? Where did that term come from?
Furthermore, why did God think man EVEN needed woman? And what does the Bible say about this union?
Let’s take a look.
Long ago God created a man named Adam. He told Adam [a man made in God’s image] to cultivate the earth.
To subdue it.
Adam shaped wood into tools. Domesticated oxen to plow fertile soil. He groomed fruit trees. He raised honey bees. He cultivated mint and cornflowers.
But the image of God in man was not complete. God said, “It is not good that man his alone.” He wanted to give Adam a companion.
What’s strange about this arrangement is that Adam doesn’t seem to notice his need for a companion.
He appears perfectly content to be alone.
This is problematic. Not to Adam, but to God. And for reasons we might not consider.
Then God created woman. Genesis 2:21-23 tells us what that looked like:
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Because God created woman even though Adam was content in his solitude suggests God had something else in mind for man than merely tinkering around in a garden by himself.
God wanted to give man a partner in the stewardship of that garden. Together man and woman split the labor of subduing the earth.
He commanded them both to rule. To take dominion over the fish. The birds. The badgers.
And this responsibility–a sovereign authority you might say–is another way that man and woman are made in God’s likeness.
God is in charge of the universe…man and woman are in charge of the earth. But mere stewardship of goats and crops wasn’t all.
Part of Adam and Eve’s responsibility involved multiplying humans. Procreation. Making babies.
A skill, we all know, Adam could not perform on his own.
This command would ensure God’s image spread over the earth. It allowed for Adam and Eve to fulfill their cultural mandate by sharing their workload with their children.
Yet another division of labor.
Call it imperialism if you want. But all for the glory of God. Here’s what I mean.
Listen: When man and woman work in harmony–sharing the responsibility of creating culture, raising children and sharing the gospel–God is glorified.
And he is glorified within the ordained parameters of marriage.
From the Genesis narrative of the creation of man and woman God demonstrates his plan for marriage equals a monogamous heterosexual relationship.
Proliferation of mankind–God’s image–could not happen any other way.
God knew that his glory was limited in the creation of one man. So he made woman. And then man and woman made child.
This union and procreation honors God. Glorifies him. Extends his joy as this man, woman and child honor them with their hearts and service.
It’s a lifestyle of adoration for their creator. Incomplete when man was alone.
Recommended resource: God, Marriage and Family Andreas J. Kostenberger
Where I write about the lessons I learned from the death of a distant uncle.
Seventy years from now more than likely you will be dead.
Don’t worry: So will I.
Some of us will die earlier than others [before we reach fifty].
Some will live longer [well after we turn ninety].
See, as humans, we all share this in common–death.
But we also share something else: When we are dead all of the things in our head–our thoughts, dreams, ideas, feelings–will be gone from this earth…
Lost forever to this world. And the people we leave behind.
Yesterday I learned about the death of a distant uncle. A man who I hadn’t seen in twenty years, but for good reasons meant a lot to me.
During a brief time of vulnerability, he took me, my mother and sister into his fold. But during that brief time he taught me how to work hard, hunt and think.
He even gave me a beautiful rifle.
Unfortunately, after a short period of time we parted ways and I never spoke to him again.
I regret that.
And so this morning I found myself a bit tired, wistful and nostalgic. A wee bit indifferent to the world but profoundly interested in hugging my children and embracing my wife.
It’s a classic introvert defense to news heavy on the death of people close to you.
Furthermore, streaming through my thoughts this whole time is an acute sense of our mortality–and the selfishness of living in one’s own head…an introvert’s favorite place to be.
So in order to combat that, here are some reflections–commands, really–on how to indulge in the little time we have left in this world–whether you are an extrovert or introvert–and make the most of the time you have with your people.
It applies to us all. Enjoy.
Talk. Nurture deep conversations with meaningful people like your spouse, children, best friends and neighbors. Do this relentlessly.
Journal. Record your thoughts, feelings and ideas. Document tough questions. Sketch out your answers. The point: Be liberal so people can learn something about you when you die.
Pray. Nurture a deep, never-ending conversation with God. Pour out your soul to Him. Ask him for help. Plead with him to teach you how to be more like Christ.
Confess. Shed secret sin by rehearsing the gospel daily, pleading with God for forgiveness and asking an exclusive set of godly men and woman to hold you accountable.
Blog. Share your thoughts, feelings and ideas with a wider audience. Or keep it private and simply share it with family you are geographically separated from.
Contemplate. Think about your past. Evaluate your present. Plan your future. And once you contemplate, share it with others–in a conversation, on a blog or in your journal.
Write. Lubricate lines of communication with a regular letter or email. For times when you can’t pick up the phone or sit down in front of someone. Do this daily.
Slow Down. Resist invitations to do more. Simplify. Enjoy life. Enjoy your spouse. Your friends. Your children. Your home. Your car. The path through the woods. The lake. The clouds. The cross of Christ.
Create. Take those thoughts and ideas and give them life. Write songs. Sculpt statues. Paint portraits. Design cartoons. Build houses.
Play. Go sledding or fishing. Rock climbing or wind surfing. Teach your son to throw a ball. Twirl with your daughter in the den. Uncork a bottle of wine with your wife and watch her trounce you in a game of Scrabble.
Obey. Do when the Holy Spirit nudges. Don’t hesitate. Call that friend. Skip work and run away with your children to the beach. Visit that dying uncle. Share the gospel with a shop clerk.
Love. Grieve with the suffering. Laugh with the jubilant. Talk with the lonely. Listen to the gregarious. Give to the earthquake-shattered. Evangelize the hostile.
As you can probably tell, when I say indulge, I’m speaking about pouring yourself out for others. Giving away EVERYTHING in you to those you love AND to those you don’t love…
To those you know–and to those you don’t know. What you want is to say at the end of your life you held nothing back.
See, it’s worth forcing ourselves outside of our shelters [skulls, homes, churches, nations] and subduing the earth in Christ and for Christ.
Not only is it a biblical mandate, but it also provides for a rich, meaningful life. One that is perilously short.
Don’t waste it.
It wasn’t so much that he was posing–but that look he had on his face…
And his body posture.
At first blush, innocuous. Bland. Marginally detached.
Nothing to cause alarm or concern. It’s just a photograph promoting Whittaker’s EP.
But the thing got under my skin. In a low-grade BAD way. For days even.
The thing is, I couldn’t really put my finger on why it bothered me so much. It just made me go–ick.
And it wasn’t a dislike for Whittaker or his music. I knew that much. No, it went to the core of something else.
Something deeper. In my own being. Or our culture’s soul. Or both. I just didn’t know until the mystery started to unfold.
I have a book on my shelf called Eight American Poets.
It’s a slim anthology on Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg and James Merrill–poets who characterize the 20th century’s “second brilliant generation.”
[…the first generation being Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Hughes,Stevens, and Williams…]
On the cover–as you might suspect–are photographs of each poet…all of them, except Ginsberg, staring at you.
It’s disturbing on many levels.
First, human eyes staring at you are strange things indeed. Photographs of human eyes staring at you even more odd. Photographs of eyes staring at you that belong to dead people–haunting.
But photographs of human eyes staring at you that belonged to dead people who, when alive, led very creative, but disturbed lives takes the cake.
These are such photographs. And it doesn’t help that I’ve got history with these poets. Let me explain.
Long ago as a moody, half-cocked young poet I fell for Sylvia Plath. Adored Anne Sexton. Admired James Merrill. Cherished Theodore Roethke. Envied Robert Lowell. And idolized John Berryman.
The only poet who I spurned was Allen Ginsberg and that was due to his pedophilic tendencies.
But the others I’d canonized. Bizarre since these poets lived and died tragic lives.
Three of the poets killed themselves–Plath, Berryman and Sexton.
Lowell made a career out of writing candid poetry about his multiple mental hospitals admissions.
Bishop lived the life of a recluse with her lover in South America.
Theodore Roethke endured crippling episodes of depression.
And James Merrill, who painted a candid portrait of gay life in the early 1950s, lived modestly despite great personal wealth and eventually died in Arizona from AIDS complications.
You wonder why I–or anyone for that matter–invested so much hope and emotional capital into such people.
But here’s the deal: These troubling writers powerfully shaped my mind. And drug me to dark places I’d rather not go. Which brings us back to Whittaker.
When it comes to romantic poetry and rock n roll both are at their best when they come from emotionally raw places says Craig Schuftan in his book Hey Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone.
Take the former Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan, for example. He said, ”And the more intense it was, the better, and we would probably have to suffer for that.”
Then there’s the British romantic poet George Gordon Byron who said about Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage–perhaps his best poem–”I was truly mad during its composition.”
[Note: Before Byron the notion that you had to suffer to create great art seemed ridiculous.]
Unfortunately, this notion is leaching into the Christian culture. Whittaker is but a mild example.
So my question to you is this: Is this the least bit healthy–regardless if you are a Christian or not? Furthermore, does it belong in the Christian community?
Or is this just anonther example of our incumbent narcissism rearing it’s ugly head and placing the focus on us rather than Christ?
Understand: I am one of those creative people. And I have a bent for suffering. But I’m not sure the focus should be placed on me or my pain.
I’m also reminded of Keith Green performing beneath his piano so people would focus on God and not him.
My irredeemable love of obscurity likes that. A lot.
So what do you think: Is this a zero-sum game? Or can we strike a balance? I look forward to your thoughts. Brutal and all.