Saturday, September 18, 2004

Why I like "The Message"

Well, I've been taking a nice break from blogging, only to be interupted by the CBS "Rathergate" scandal, which is still brewing. Right now, the only people who truly believe the Texas Air National Guard memo's are authentic are Dan Rather and CBS News. For those who are interested, the latest tidbits on the scandal can be found at the following web sites: RatherBiased, Rathergate, and the one that started it all: FreeRepublic.

In other news....

I really like The Message. Though not a "proper" Bible translation, it does a fantastic job of communicating the essential elements of scripture in very straight-forward language.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. First, Colossians 2:6-7 from the heavy-weight champion of modern English translations, The New International Version (NIV):
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in him,
rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.

Now here is the same passage from The Message:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:
Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.
You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him.
You’re deeply rooted in him.
You’re well constructed upon him.
You know your way around the faith.
Now do what you’ve been taught.
School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it!
And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Yes, the NIV is much closer to the orginal word-for-word Greek, but The Message is far better at communicating the essential truth of the passage.

OK, now I'm going back on break....maybe I'll blog again in October...(yeah, right...)

Sunday, September 12, 2004

EDITORIAL: New century finds a new journalism (how blogs defeated CBS!)

An excellent editorial from the Grand Forks Herald, reprinted here in full: Grand Forks Herald | 09/12/2004 | EDITORIAL: New century finds a new journalism

EDITORIAL: New century finds a new journalism

If you're a media buff - and who isn't, in America in 2004? - then circle Thursday, Sept. 9, on your mental calendar. Because that's the day weblogs came into their own.

And politics and journalism never will be the same.

What happened Thursday is that webloggers or "bloggers" latched on to a controversial "60 Minutes"/CBS News story - and then worked the thing, with a stubbornness and tenacity that would have done credit to a pack of bulldogs or a turn of snapping turtles - or, yes, an army of investigative reporters.

As a result, CBS was forced to respond within a single news cycle. And although the network eventually stood by its story, more holes are showing up in the thing almost by the hour, and there's a fair chance the network will have to retract.

This may have been the first time a TV network was forced to respond so quickly to an Internet critique. But it won't be the last time for America's networks, newspapers or other institutions, because bloggers now are responding to events not as opinion writers but as fact-checkers and skilled reporters.

Here's the short form of what happened. Wednesday night: CBS's "60 Minutes" program broadcast a powerful and damaging report about President Bush. A young George W. Bush pulled strings not only to get into the Texas Air National Guard but also to be eased out without fulfilling his obligations, the report claimed.

And among other things, it cited a handful of newly uncovered documents as proof.

That's when the bloggers - especially conservative bloggers - chomped down. CBS posted copies of the incriminating documents online. But within hours, a poster named Buckhead at saw that the documents looked more like the product of 2004 word processing than a 1972 typewriter.

Power Line, a Twin Cities-based weblog - it's at and is well worth reading, especially if you're new to the weblog phenomenon - posted Buckhead's comments. Then, in a clattering crescendo of keystrokes, the issue exploded in cyberspace. Soon had interviewed a "forensic document" specialist who agreed the documents likely were fakes. Then retyped the memos using Microsoft Word and showed them to be a perfect typographic match. Then retired Air National Guard officers and enlisted clerks weighed in, noting that the memos broke many 1970s-era rules of military style.

And that was only a hundredth of it.

The most amazing thing is that these developments could be followed in real time by anyone owning a computer. CBS issued periodic statements throughout the day Thursday, but by Friday, the cyberweight of the bloggers' (and, by then, talk-radio, TV and newspaper) reports couldn't be ignored. So Dan Rather on "CBS Evening News" defended the original report.

But a Saturday cybertour found more experts frowning at the documents, more newspapers publishing their own critical reports and even a CBS source or two walking away from the original story.

If CBS winds up retracting, the credit will have to go to the "blogosphere," a new and powerful force in journalism. Twin Cities blogger James Lileks of said it best: "The Internet smells blood and leaps, and that has turned the game around, for better or worse."

Tech Central Station - Blogs v. 60 Minutes (and my thoughts about the incident becoming known as "Rathergate")

Check out the following article:TCS: Tech Central Station - Blogs v. 60 Minutes by Jay Currie.

Currie points out that the forged documents CBS used to discredit President Bush were themselves discredited by a host of unknowns in the blogosphere! Just a bunch of average Joe's, like you and me, who knew a thing or two about word processors and fonts.

For those who don't know, the blogosphere is where you are at this moment, if you're reading this online at Theodicy is a blog, a nick-name for "weg log." The vast numbers of blogs on the internet are known collectively as 'the blogosphere.'

Since stumbling across the story about the forged memos, (while reading some of my favorite blogs!) I've been thinking about the ramifications of this story. It is truly a historical moment for many, many reasons; but most importantly it clearly demonstrates how the mainstream media will no longer be able to pull a fast one on the American people. Of course the Internet has been FULL of articles and postings from average, non-journalist citizens contradicting stories in the professional newsmedia for many years; but it is amazing how CBS's memo story was being debunked on the Internet BEFORE IT EVEN AIRED THIS PAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT! This is a major victory for the blogosphere (people like me & you) and a horrible defeat for the professional mainstream media.

This also shows just how desperate the Democrats have become. It is no secret that 85 to 90% of all American journalists are Democrats, and for those who cover a political beat, the number approaches 100%. Of course they want their guy, John Kerry, to win the election, which makes it rather difficult for them to cover the news objectively, to put it mildly!

So CBS, thinking they could help their candidate--who is falling behind in the polls--goes with a majorly bogus story to discredit President Bush, thinking no one would notice that the documents used as the foundation of their story would be analyzed to the nth degree, well before the story was broadcast on TV.

For many people, this only demonstrates what they already knew: the major American news networks (with the notable exception of Fox News) are working for the Kerry campaign as unpaid volunteers--and not very adept volunteers at that. If there's any story that can possibly damage President Bush in the eyes of the American voters, it gets a major television special. If there's any story that could possibly hurt their candidate, (like 250+ of Kerry's former boatmates stating that he lied about his service in Vietnam) the story gets burried, unless they decide to do a hit piece against those who are discrediting their candidate.

The amazing thing is that no matter what his supporters in the news media try do to help him, John Kerry ends up being his own worst enemy. It is common knowledge that most people who are supporting Kerry are really just wanting to get rid of Bush. In other words, they don't like Kerry so much as they hate Bush for starting the war in Iraq. So Kerry has become the focus of the anti-war vote.

Yet a majority of Americans--even if it's a slim majority--support the war effort, and are grateful that the events of 9-11 have not been replicated on American soil. And they correctly credit President Bush for going on the offensive against terrorism, rather than waiting for the Sears Tower to be blown up. The recent events in Jakarta and Beslan only underscore the wisdom of offensive, decisive action.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


9/11: it was only three years ago today. Many more terrorists attacks have happened since then, most recently in Beslan, Russia and Jakarta, Indonesia. Let us remember what President Bush said soon after that horrible day, that the war on terrorism was going to take time and perseverance. Let us not grow weary of this battle, but continue to pray and take action until those who participate in this demonic evil are ultimately vanquished.

Friday, September 10, 2004

ImageShack: 60 Minutes BUSTED!

And I thought I would have a nice quiet break from blogging...yeah, right....

Someone has put together a simple Flash demonstration showing how a Air National Guard memo alledgedly typed-up in the early 70's looks exactly like a document created by Microsoft Word!!!

Just click on this link: ImageShack - Hosting :: 60minbusted.swf and then simply watch the screen, the animation plays automatically.

The CBS television show "60 Minutes 2" used the forged documents to discredit President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Gaurd, but all they've succeeded in doing is destroying what little creditability they have.

Also, a major who shared an office with Lt. Col. Killian says that they also both shared the same secretary, who was the only one with a typewriter in the office--an old manual (not even electric!) typewriter.

Forged documents came from Kerry and DNC???

The American Spectator's "Prowler" published an online column early this morning entitled Anatomy of a Forgery.

In this article, it is reported that the source of obviously forged documents that CBS used to denounce President Bush's service in the Air National Guard came from John Kerry's campaign and the Democratic National Committee!

Today, CBS stands by the authenticity of their documents, and REFUSES to name the source who gave them to the network!

This is really getting interesting! I think it's time for Federal law enforcement officials and the FCC to get involved.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


CBS News is wanting to run a big TV special on how President Bush missed some of his duty time while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

However....the documents they are using to support these allegations are very bad forgeries! The people at the Free Republic web site first noticed it, after CBS posted copies of the documents on the Internet.

For more information, see this link: New Questions On Bush Guard Duty [CBS USES FORGERIES TO SMEAR THE PRESIDENT!!!!!]

Having served in the U.S. Air Force, one quick look at the documents posted by CBS were enough to convince me they were fakes. No typewriter ever existed in the Air Force or Air National Guard that could print proportionally spaced Times Roman font! That capability did not exist before the first Windows PC's and laser printers started to be used, starting about 1992, TWENTY YEARS AFTER the date that appears on these memos! There are also various mistakes in the formatting of abrevations, dates, and other details no typist in the military would ever make, especially one who worked for a commanding officer!

It's bad enough that CBS News wants to throw mud on Bush's time in the Air National Gurad, but using forged documents to do it is just too much! What were they thinking???

It should be noted that NO ONE who has served with Bush in the Air National Guard has come forward to say ANYTHING the least bit critical about him. This is in contrast to John Kerry, where over 250 of his former commrades-in-arms have come out stating that Kerry has grossly over-stated his "heroics" while serving in Vietnam. They also can't stand the fact that he slandered all the men who served in Vietnam by calling them war criminals and barbarians--charges he made in the early 70's to gain favor with the anti-war crowd. Now Kerry wants us to forget about his years in the fore-front of the anti-war movement, and think his four months in Vietnam qualify him to lead the war on terrorism!

Kerry has been blatanly anti-war and anti-military for over thirty years.


Just got a new book that I think might interest some folks. The title is "The Birth Of The Church: FROM JESUS TO CONSTANTINE, AD 30-312 from BakerBooks.

The book, as the title implies, is an overview of the first 300 years of Christianity from an EVANGELICAL perspective! Should be interesting. I'll write a review of it when I'm finished (which might be sometime in December of 2010 from the way my "books to read" pile is growing!)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Time for a blogging break.

I feel I need to take a break from blogging for a while. I hear my soul telling me I need a time of quiet and solitude, away from distractions (like my computer!) and to just focus on my relationships, primarily to God, secondly to everyone else!

So peace be to all of you, and I'll be posting again in a week or too...

Patton on Prayer

General George S. Patton on prayer, as told to his chaplain (from The Patton Society web site:

Chaplain, I am a strong believer in Prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by Praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in. Up to now, in the Third Army, God has been very good to us. We have never retreated; we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics. This is because a lot of people back home are praying for us. We were lucky in Africa, in Sicily, and in Italy. Simply because people prayed. But we have to pray for ourselves, too. A good soldier is not made merely by making him think and work. There is something in every soldier that goes deeper than thinking or working--it's his "guts." It is something that he has built in there: it is a world of truth and power that is higher than himself. Great living is not all output of thought and work. A man has to have intake as well. I don't know what you it, but I call it Religion, Prayer, or God.

He talked about Gideon in the Bible, said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would "crack up." To all this I commented agreement, that one of the major training objectives of my office was to help soldiers recover and make their lives effective in this third realm, prayer. It would do no harm to re-impress this training on chaplains. We had about 486 chaplains in the Third Army at that time, representing 32 denominations. Once the Third Army had become operational, my mode of contact with the chaplains had been chiefly through Training Letters issued from time to time to the Chaplains in the four corps and the 22 to 26 divisions comprising the Third Army. Each treated of a variety of subjects of corrective or training value to a chaplain working with troops in the field. [Patton continued:]

I wish you would put out a Training Letter on this subject of Prayer to all the chaplains; write about nothing else, just the importance of prayer. Let me see it before you send it. We've got to get not only the chaplains but every man in the Third Army to pray. We must ask God to stop these rains. These rains are that margin that hold defeat or victory. If we all pray, it will be like what Dr. Carrel said [the allusion was to a press quote some days previously when Dr. Alexis Carrel, one of the foremost scientists, described prayer "as one of the most powerful forms of energy man can generate"], it will be like plugging in on a current whose source is in Heaven. I believe that prayer completes that circuit. It is power.

Monday, September 06, 2004

"The Little Way" Catholic Bookstore

The following is a little article that was enclosed with my purchase of books from "The Little Way” Catholic bookstore. The article explains how the store got it’s name:

We have been asked often how we chose the name “The Little Way” for our store. It was named for St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower.” She devised a prayer-filled approach to life that has helped many. She called her spiritual walk The Little Way. It is deceptively simple, in short it is to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticisms, to befriend those who annoy us, to help those who are ungrateful, and to give to those who only take. For her part, Therese was convinced that these trifles pleased Jesus more than the great deeds of recognized holiness. The beauty of The Little Way is how utterly available it is to everyone. From the child to the adult, from the sophisticated to the simple, from the most powerful to the least influential, all can undertake this ministry of small things. The opportunities to live in this way come to us constantly, while the great fidelities happen only now and then. Almost daily we can give smiling service to nagging co-workers, listen attentively to silly bores, express little kindnesses without making a fuss.

We may think these tiny, trivial activities are hardly worth mentioning. That, of course is precisely their virtue. The are unrecognized conquests over selfishness. We will never receive a medal or even a thank you note for these invisible victories in ordinary life, which is exactly what Therese would encourage us to pursue.

An incident from her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul” show the hiddenness of “The Little Way”. One annoying sister managed to irritate Therese in everything she did. Rather than avoid this person she took her Little Way to heart and treated this sister as if she loved her best of all. Therese succeeded so well in living her Little Way that after her death the sister remarked that she did not know what she had done to win the affections of Therese so completely. I am sure Therese was pleased to know this.

Kerry Iraq Documentary

A very, very interesting video documentary highlighting John Kerry's changing attitude about the Iraq war is available from the Kerry On Iraq web site --sponsored by the Republicans!

Before he started running as the Democrat presidential candidate, John Kerry was more of a hawk on Iraq than Bush!

The documentary is available for viewing through the website, for those who have the bandwidth to watch it.

God is not something to be achieved...

More good stuff from Insights for the Ages:

"Clearly, for Benedict, God is not something to be achieved; God is a presence to be responded to but to whom without that presence, we cannot respond. God isn't something for which spiritual athletes compete or someone that secret spiritual formulas expose. God is the breath we breathe. It is thanks to God that we have any idea of God at all. God is not a mathematical formula that we discover by dint of our superior intelligence or our moral valor. God is the reason that we can reach God. It is to this ever-present Presence that the Rule of Benedict directs us. It is to God already in our lives that Benedict turns our minds. The Hasidim tell the story of the preacher who preached over and over, 'Put God into your life; put God into your life.' But the holy rabbi of the village said, 'Our task is not to put God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that.'

The words of the Rule are as fresh on this point as the day they were written. The fact is that we still compartmentalize God. We tell ourselves that we are working on reaching the spiritual life by saying prayers and doing penances and making pilgrimages and giving things up. And we keep score: so many daily masses, so many rosaries, so many fastdays, so many spiritual books read, so many conferences attended equal so many steps toward the acquisition of God. The Rule of Benedict sets us straight. God is with us, for the taking, but not for any spiritual payment, only for realizing what we already have."

A dull, mundane life...

I love these words of wisdom from the commentary on St. Benedict's Rule (Insights for the Ages):

"The person who prays for the presence of God is, ironically, already in the presence of God. The person who seeks God has already found God to some extent. 'We are already counted as God's own,' the Rule reminds us. Benedict knows this and clearly wants us to know it, as well. A dull, mundane life stays a dull, mundane life, no matter how intent we become on developing spiritually. No amount of church-going will change that. What attention to the spiritual life does change is our appreciation for the presence of God in our dull, mundane lives. We come to realize that we did not find God; God finally got our attention. The spiritual life is a grace with which we must cooperate, not a prize to be captured or a trophy to be won.

"But, the Rule implies, we have been given a grace that is volatile. To feel it and ignore it, to receive it but reject it, the paragraph suggests, is to be in a worse situation than if we had never paid any attention to the spiritual life at all. For disregard of God's good gifts, Benedict says, for refusing to use the resources we have for the upbuilding of the reign of God, for beginning what we do not intend to complete, the price is high. We are disinherited. We lose what is ours for the taking. We miss out on the life we are meant to have . We are dealt with, not as children of the owner who know instinctively that they are meant to grow into new and deeper levels of relationship here, but as hired help in the house, as people who look like they are part of the family but who never reap its real benefits or know its real nature. In failing to respond to God everywhere God is around us, we may lose the power of God that is in us."

MSNBC - 'Because I believe in God'

MSNBC - Frances, now tropical storm, veers to Gulf:

'Because I believe in God'

Some attributed the storm's weakening to answered prayers. Frances forced the cancellation of church services across much of the state, but seven people ventured out to attend a service at Miami Lakes United Methodist Church.

"It's still the Lord's day," the Rev. Mark Caldwell said. "It's our destiny to show the world we can come here and be thankful."

At a mobile home park in north Fort Pierce, Timothy Fellows emerged from the storm to find a neighbor's trailer demolished but only a fence down on his property.

"My trailer survived!" the barechested Fellows shouted as he walked through his yard. "Because I believe in God. Even my mailbox survived. That tells you something."

MSNBC - Three Deaths attributed to Frances

MSNBC - Frances, now tropical storm, veers to Gulf: "The storm was blamed for at least three deaths in Florida, including two people who were killed Saturday when their roof collapsed in Palm Beach County. Another man was killed when his car hit a tree near Gainesville. There were two earlier deaths in the Bahamas, where thousands were forced from their homes."

Frances is about done.

Radar map of Frances from 10:50 pm EDT.

Well, all the Frances prayers have paid-off! The hurricane-turned-tropical storm is now about 30-40 miles to the west of Tampa, and the winds have diminished to a mere 65 m.p.h. There is some concern that Frances might regain hurricane status before it turns north towards the Florida pan-handle.

My prayers are that the storm continues to diminish.

Fortunately, the damage done by Frances was surprisingly light for such a huge storm. Most damage came from the uprooting of trees more so than the wind and rain. At this time there are no reports of injuries due to the storm, and only one possible death.

While the damage done to property might be wide-spread, all the people who live in that area are safe, mainly due to a widely enforced evacuation.

Frances no longer a hurricane

Satelite picture of Frances taken Sunday at 10:45 pm Florida time. Frances is now just a tropical storm.

Eye-witness account from Beslan, Russia

The following news account about Beslan is from the Russian Ministries web site (

Pastor Sergey Totiev, a local pastor in the Beslan area, whose children were held as hostages in the school, spoke by phone today to Sergey Rakhuba, vice president of Russian Ministries. Sergey Rakhuba also spoke with Pastor Yuri Sipko, the president of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, who is also in Beslan and was an eyewitness to yesterday’s events. Here is a summary of their discussions.

Pastor Totiev confirmed that Anya, his 8-year-old daughter, was killed. Azum, one of his sons, is being treated in hospital where doctors are trying to preserve vision in both of his eyes. His niece, Madina, has left the hospital and returned to her home. She has not spoken and is in a state of shock. Sergey and his brother Taymuraz had 8 children in the school during the ordeal. The five other children remain missing. Many children were sent to a larger hospital in Vladikavkaz. But the area surrounding Beslan is now sealed off, so he is unable to travel to that city and search for the remaining children in his family.

Pastor Totiev said that he fears that the number of dead may be as high as 500, but no one yet knows. Some of the bodies will be difficult to identify because of the explosions that were set off at the school. He estimates that 60 percent of the dead will be children.

The hostage-takers seemed to be highly skilled, and the action appeared to be a well-planned and carefully orchestrated event, with many explosives stored at the school during a time of remodeling during the summer. There are still an estimated 50 kg. of unused explosives at the school site that, if detonated, could blow up the entire neighborhood. Pastor Totiev reports that 27 hostage-takers were killed, three are in custody, and four remain at large. Nine of the hostage-takers appeared to be neither Chechen, Russian or Ossettian, but of Arab descent.

Pastor Totiev wants to express heartfelt gratitude for people around the world who have prayed for him, his brother, their children and all the people who are directly affected by this terror.

Yuri Sipko, the president of the Evangelical Christian-Baptist of Russia, journeyed to Beslan, and was present as bodies were being pulled from the debris. He reports that it will be impossible to identify many children and adults. He is inviting all Baptist churches in Russia not just to pray, but to also financially support the community in Beslan irregardless of religious affiliation because of the many financial needs—for caring for the injured, burying those who died, and helping the community at large recover from this tragedy.

Russian Ministries has established a Terror Relief Fund to help the community in Beslan with spiritual and physical needs. You may give online, call toll-free 1-888-462-7639, or mail your gift designated for Terror Relief Fund, to Russian Ministries, P.O. Box 496, Wheaton, IL 60189.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Pray for Florida!

Radar picture of Hurricane Frances at 1:24 pm EDT.

Unbelievable! This hurricane is HUGE! Most of the state of Florida is being pounded by this monsterous storm, which came ashore last night (Saturday, 9/5/04), and is still hovering over the center of the state.

No one in has ever seen anything like this.

To make things even worst, Frances is a very slow moving system, and is dumping rain by the foot onto an already water-logged state. It is quite possible that Frances won't be through with Florida until Tuesday, when it should pass over the pan-handle portion of the state on it's way to Alabama.

My prayers are that the LORD will calm this storm!

And while Frances pounds Florida, another brand-new Hurricane, IVAN, has just formed in the mid-Atlantic...

NOAA satelite picture of Frances at 1:15 pm EDT

Satelite pictures of Hurricane Frances on Sunday, 1:15 pm EDT (

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Rise and Fall of Atheism

The following are comments from Charlotte Allen taken from her review of the book "The Twilight of Atheism." It is interesting how something as celebrated amongst Protestant Christians as the Reformation was the primary cause of atheism and the phenomenal growth of secularism in the Western world:
Atheism per se did not exist until modern times. The Greeks and Romans had defined an atheist not as someone who disbelieved in God but as someone who rejected the traditional gods who protected the social order. Hence Socrates was an atheist, and so, in the eyes of the pagan Romans, were the early Christians. Almost everyone in the ancient and medieval worlds believed in a deity or deities. Atheism as we now know it, McGrath explains, grew up in one specific place, Western Europe (and its outposts in America and elsewhere), as a phenomenon of a specific time, the dawn of modernity, and as a reaction against a specific religion, Christianity. The roots of atheism, McGrath suggests, lay paradoxically in that primal phenomenon of Western modernity, the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers' efforts to purify the institutional church in order to make it more concordant with their vision of Jesus' authentic teachings generated a loss of trust in institutional religion in general. Furthermore, McGrath argues that the Reformers, by focusing upon the Bible as the sole source of God's revelation, effectively desacralized both the natural world and the secular human world, which in the integralist medieval Catholic view had been equally saturated with God's sacred presence. With the Reformation, "God became an absence in the world," writes McGrath.
Charlotte Allen, "Believe It," National Review 13 Sep. 2004.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

OneHouse: Benedict's Rule

Karen over at OneHouse is beginning to read through St. Benedict's rule. I think it's a wonderful idea, and will be doing so myself. Would you like to join us? Click here for St. Benedict's rule online, along with an interesting commentary.

My review of John Eldredge's book "Epic"

I just wrote a review of John Eldreges's new book "Epic." It is currently on display at the Barnes & web site, under the pen name "Theoron." I sent it to as well, and hopefully it will be published by them soon.

For your consideration, I'm posting my review right here. Enjoy!

A review of the book “Epic” by John Eldredge

Upon beginning to read Eldredge’s latest book, I found myself with a knife in one hand, a razor in the other, ready to cut, shred, slice and dice my way through--what I had falsely believed-- was going to be another milquetoast, week-kneed “inspirational” piece of nonsense foisted upon the unsuspecting masses. How very wrong my initial perceptions were! Rather than cutting and ripping my way through this book, I found my self pleasantly delighted by each wonderful page. I can honestly say that this is the best little book I’ve read in the past year.

What is it about certain stories that capture the imagination and adoration of so many people? Just in the past fifty years or so, we have had the great pleasure of being blessed with many wonderful stories, both in book and film, like “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Titanic” and a host of others. Something about these films and stories spoke to us on a deep, emotional level, bypassing our analytical minds and moving upon us in a genuinely spiritual fashion. Eldredge has discovered the common theme that unites all these wonderful stories, and shows us how they all are very similar to the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Could it be that all these famous, well known stories have become so popular because there is something in us that wants, or possibly even knows that they are true? Whether it be the heroics displayed upon the decks of the sinking Titanic, or the courageousness of two lonely little hobbits trekking across forlorn lands to destroy ultimate evil, there is something about those stories that we wish were true for ourselves. But what if these stories could, in fact, be speaking of a reality that is available for us? Is it possible that we too could live “happily ever after” upon completion of a heroic deed? The surprising but honest answer Eldredge gives us is a resounding “yes.”

The ultimate story of all history is that of the God/man Jesus. Here is a man who lived a simple, but powerful life. He was a champion and a friend to many, and a bitter enemy and a thorn in the side of a few. But those few were the power-brokers of the day, and decided it would be convenient to do away with this miracle worker who so rudely upset their conscience. But the miracle worker, so quickly and violently put to death, had one last message he wanted to deliver before he left this planet: death is NOT the end, but the beginning of Real Life.

Eldredge correctly points out that films like “Titanic” and “Gladiator” succeed because they plainly show that there is life after death, there is a happy ending no matter the tragedy. Isn’t that what we long for, hope for, pray for? Our lives are not just meaningless little accidents that are the results of random chemical reactions, but we are here for a purpose, not matter how wonderful or horrible the circumstances around us. But the purpose does not reach it’s ultimate fulfillment until we’ve reconciled with the Son of God.

In this short, six chapter book, Eldredge presents us with God’s plan of salvation. But though he quotes from the Bible where appropriate, the book never, ever becomes one of those dry, dull theological treatments that read more like a recipe for meatloaf than an introduction to the living God. Theological terminology has been banned from this book, and it is all the better for it. Rather than aiming at the brain, Eldredge correctly and expertly aims at the heart, and hits the bulls-eye page after page. This book is the finest gospel presentation I’ve ever come across in my many years of Christianity.

But there is a group who will hate this gem of a book, who will easily find tremendous fault with it. They would be the modern Pharisees of today, the holier-than-thou religious folk who can’t stand a presentation of Jesus that can’t be read without a theological dictionary in one hand and a King James Bible in the other. Poor folks, they will be greatly missed (not!)

If I could, I’d give “Epic” one hundred stars. Five just isn’t enough.