Monday, January 23, 2017

“Do We Not Bleed?” by Daniel Taylor


Amateur (and accidental) detective Jon Mote seemingly has hung up his gumshoes and taken a position at the residence home where his sister Judy is now living. He’s separated from his wife, Zillah, and she’s sent him divorce papers. He’s now a housemaster for Judy and five other special needs adults, who are turning out to be less trouble than the staff who actually run the place.

Previously (chronicled in Death Comes for the Deconstructionist), Jon was asked by the widow to look into the death of a professor. He found himself navigating how college literature is taught in universities (as in, there’s little of it being taught at all). Now he’s contending with the doublespeak of contemporary psychology and residence home administration, and finding that the residents are considered not so much people as they are clients.

Fortunately, the residents seem to have more common sense than the administrators. And then one of them is murdered.

To call Do We Not Bleed? by Daniel Taylor a murder mystery is to do it an injustice. It is that, but it is also far more. Jon Mote is something of an everyman, a spiritual pilgrim, a lapsed Baptist still be chased by his faith, a sister who loves Jesus, and his perceptive insights into the human condition. Including his own human condition.

Daniel Taylor
Slowly Jon comes to understand the humanity of his “Specials,” as he calls them, but also that they have intrinsic value as human beings. They are not less than “normals,” although they’re continually compared to them. They are valuable and valued creations of God.

Slowly, too, does Jon comes to address and solve the mystery. In fact, it is his residents who put the pressure on to do something. One of those residents is Bonita, who may rank as one of the great comic characters of contemporary fiction. (Don’t get in her way, and especially don’t stand between her and her bottle of soda pop.)

Taylor is the author of The Skeptical Believer, Tell Me a Story, Creating a Spiritual Legacy, The Myth of Certainty and several other books. He’s contributed to Bible translations and is co-founder of The Legacy Center, created to help families and individuals find their stories, values and meaning. He’s also a contributing editor for Christianity Today’s Books and Culture Magazine. Taylor blogs at Neither/Nor: Ruminations of a Spiritual Traveler. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist won Christianity Today’s best novel award in its annual book awards and the Illumination Award for best fiction by an independent publisher.

Do We Note Bleed? is an insightful commentary on modern life, the foolishness that often emanates from so-called experts and passes for professional judgment, and our tendencies to seek answers too quickly, especially answers to questions of faith. It’s a marvelous book.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bricks in exile


After Nehemiah 3:1-32 and Ephesians 2:12-14

I do not know why
I laid bricks in exile,
subject to whims of others:
priests, rulers, captains,
soldiers overseeing
the piling of brick
upon brick, stone
upon stone, an existence
enclosed in crowded walls.
Returning, hearing a call
to rebuild the wall,
my skills employed
to serve and protect, not
to empower and glorify.


Photograph by Rajesh Misra via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday Good Reads


Ancient clay from beneath the London Bridge station has been made into artworks – and is on display at Southwark Cathedral. Speaking of digging in London, the Museum of London has a story about how rubbish reveals Roman Londinium. And the Book of Hours of Richard III, the king found under a parking lot, is on display at Leicester.

If you want to see what contemporary Berliners know about Hitler’s famous bunker, Real Clear History has the answer. And the BBC has another piece of 20th century German history – why the Zimmerman Telegram turned out to be so important.

A Middle Eastern immigrant has a message for America and Donald Trump, and an indirect message for the previous Administration. David Rupert has the story.

Congregational singing matters, says Bob Smietana at Facts & Trends, and the problem can be fixed. There’s a hot new method for growing churches, except it’s neither hot nor new. And Jared Wilson at For the Church asks if you’re a confirmation bias Christian – a question directed at both the Christian Right and the Christian Left.

And if you ever considered going on a dinosaur fossil hunt, Tyler Larson just might be the guide for you – in the real Jurassic Park, the badlands of North Dakota.

Poetry

The Wedge – Alex Miller Jr. at Curator Magazine.

Life is a Circle – Ana Lisa de Jong.

Father – Aliyah Lauren Jacobs at Altarwork.

California’s Wild Coast: Poet Robinson Jeffers – Jesse Rossa at The New Antiquarian.

Life and Culture

When Being on the Watchtower Isn't Enough – Lori Harris (Hat tip: Sandra Heska King).

Trump and the American Divide – Victor Davis Hanson at City Journal.

Hitler’s Bunker Confounds Modern Germany – Scott Shuger and Donald Berger at Real Clear History.


British stuff

Roman rubbish reveals lost Londinium – Owen Humphries at the Museum of London.

Richard III’s Book of Hours – Leicester Cathedral.

Why was the Zimmerman Telegram so important? – Gordon Corera at BBC (Hat Tip: J of India).

Faith


The Hot ‘New” Church Growth Method – Owen Strachan at The Gospel Coalition.

Are You a Confirmation Bias Christian? – Jared Wilson at For the Church.

Aging Gracefully – Tim Challies at Informing the Reforming.

On “Silence” and More – Dr. Steven Garber at The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture.

Writing


Media Changes and the Writer – Dan Balow at The Steve Laube Agency.

Art and Photography

What I Learned from William Christenberry – Rebecca Gayle Howell at Oxford American.

Winter in northeast Iowa – James Schaap via Facebook.

Santa’s Barn – Tim Good at National Geographic / Your Shot.


Valley of the Last Dinosaurs – Mel Films



Painting: Alberto reading, oil on canvas by Giovanni Giacometti (1915).