My husband and I have recently returned from a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Usually on road trips a favorite praise song runs through my head, becoming a sort of theme song of the journey. This time the song that kept returning to my mind was “America the Beautiful.” We saw no shortage of amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, but it was not the familiar first verse that ran through my mind so much as the later verses.
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
I recently read American Sniper by Chris Kyle. It isn’t great writing, just an ordinary soldier (make that an extraordinary soldier) telling about his experiences. I’m American, but let’s just say this was a cross-cultural experience for me. The book showed up as available on my library app, and I had heard a lot about it when the movie came out, so I thought, why not? “It’s a really good book,” I was told, and I certainly can’t fault it for excitement. Kyle was definitely an adrenaline junkie.
But I found Kyle’s attitudes hard to comprehend. He is a brother in Christ according to his own testimony; we believe the same things about Jesus, see Jesus as the same highest priority in our lives and yet, Kyle finds war fun? He kills people for a living. How can that be?
Francis Schaeffer and the shaping of Evangelical America by Barry Hankins is not a new book. It was published by Eerdmans in 2008, but I’m just now getting to it. It was a hard book to read. Schaeffer profoundly shaped my thinking as a young adult. The love with which the Schaefers received both European and American young people at L’Abri (“the Shelter”) in Huemoz, Switzerland, was as powerful an apologetic for his conservative Christian faith as his tireless teaching. Although I visited L’Abri only briefly in 1976 (and that at a time when the by-then-retired Schaeffers were away), I heard him speak several times, most notably at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. Hankins’ summary of the contents of Schaeffer’s trilogy (The God Who is There, Escape From Reason, and He is There and He is not Silent) brought me back to the roots of much of my thinking that I have taken for granted for many years—the importance of worldview; the upper and lower stories that divorce faith and reason; the mannishness of man, separating us from the animal kingdom; the need to engage culture if we are going to win a world for Christ.
Sunday evening I spoke at the Minnesota NICE chapter of ACFW on "Getting Started with Scrivener," a popular writing program. Here is the related blog with links.
I recently discussed the recently popular dystopia genre on International Christian Fiction Writers.
I’m now at that stage in life when my kids are grown with families of their own. When they were small, I saw them every day and sent up hourly prayers for their wellbeing. Now it is a little more challenging to know what to pray beyond, “God bless my kids and their families.” There is so much that I want for them, but despite Facebook and Google Plus, I know so little of the details that need prayer.
In Valerie Comer’s fantasy novel Majai's Fury reviewed here, Shanh, the Jonah-inspired character sent from his legalistically god-fearing culture to invite a sinful city to believe, calls on his god to protect him. “Azhvah, show your power!” and he does, often in miraculous ways. But then, as with the God of the Bible, there are times when he seems not to. He leaves his followers to suffer while he brings Shahn out of his strict legalism into true relationship.
There are so many times when I have no idea how to pray.
We’re trying something new today. I have often told you about books I have been reading. This one really had me thinking about my own cultural perspective, and since it was written by a colleague in American Christian Fiction Writers and fellow blogger on International Christian Fiction Writers, I have invited her to answer a few questions, as an “author interview” like we do on a lot of the book sites. There is even a chance to win a free Kindle copy at the end of this post. Let me know if you would like to see more of this sort of thing.
I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars a couple years ago. (Another author I got to know through Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing. Even if you have never attended, the booklist on their site is a great place to pick up recommendations.) I haven’t yet gotten to the theatre to see the movie everyone is talking about (Christianity Today gives it a 3-star out of 4 review), but I thought you might be interested in what I wrote about the book in 2012:
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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