Humble Orthodoxy, by Joshua Harris (Multnomah)

humbleNo matter how good a book is, first impressions do matter. In this respect, the book fails: Humble Orthodoxy is the size of my hand and the thickness of my phone, retailing at  $9.99—that’s 16 cents per tiny page of the 61-paged primary section of the book.

On the other hand, the premise of the book is totally worth the price. On the cover, the subtitle of the book is “holding the truth without putting people down.” in the first few pages is this: “We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people.”

This is probably the shortest book I’ve ever read on the need for authentic Christianity, yet between every few lines is a home run. This little book is the slap of rude awakening many of us Christians need right now. Here are a few of these zingers, each of them worthy of the hashtags #humbleorthodoxy and #livelikeChrist.

  • “Truth matters . . . but so does out attitude.”
  • “One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.”
  • “All of us should be less concerned with whether others are being faithful to God’s truth than with whether we are being faithful to God.”
  • “The truth is not our truth; it comes from God. And the ability to uphold it with loving humility comes from him too.”
  • “Orthodoxy shouldn’t be a club to attack someone else. It should be a double-edged sword that starts by piercing our hearts, laying them bare before God so that we say, ‘Forgive us, Lord!’”
  • “Are we giving as much energy to obeying and being reformed by God’s Word personally we are to criticizing its detractors?”

True to its premise, the book includes excellent study guides with applicative exercises.

All in all, this is a small yet powerful book that’s relevant to Christian living.

(I received this book free from Multnomah. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)


Monotony of Monogamy

A commentary I wrote for the Adventist Review back in 2007 when the Ashley Madison Agency had only a million or so in membership.

The Ashley Madison Agency “is committed to protecting and enhancing principles of personal freedom and social justice” and makes donations to causes such as civil rights and women’s health.” Basic membership is free and allows you to browse and observe; active membership costs $80 a month.

Behind the doors of this seemingly noble enterprise is a service industry fueled by its slogan “When Monogamy becomes Monotony.” It caters to married men and women who don’t want a divorce yet want an affair. One happy customer says I  . . . met a truly wonderful man. . . We have been together for over a year . . . We learned so much and will carry it on to our marriages.”

From Genesis to Shakespeare to television’s Desperate Housewives, infidelity spikes interest and conversations. Something about the forbidden and morally wrong is fodder for primetime news and hometown gossip. The media has given Ashley Madison airtime, albeit unfavorable press. Yet the more negative attention, the faster the agency grows: From just a few thousand members five years ago, it now has over a million!

The founder says, “I’m a marketer, filling a need in the market place” His clients are all affairs waiting to happen; he is merely providing a safe platform where they can be “honest and open” (about their infidelity)

Satan’s new approach is not to dissolve the marriage but to de-sanctify it and make it meaningless. He aggressively zeros in on the lonely and the discontented and uses books, talk shows, and therapists that promote self-indulgence in today’s I-need-to-take-of-myself society. As a result, what used to be taboo is now harmless indulgence. And it’s so easy for us to be drenched in self-pity and cry out “Poor me” rather than be draped in the righteousness of Christ and “not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:14, NIV)

useful and not so useful info #2

1. Today women are the main breadwinners in 40% of US households. In 1960, it was 11 %, reports Amy Langfiled (obviously a woman).

2. Not all Harvard graduates become notables with notoriety. Go here to read the commencement address by NYPD cop and two-time Harvard graduate, Jon Murad. Best line: “Everyone changes the world. Everything ripples.”

3. Hitler and his men were Meth addicts. Except, they called it chocolate. Really.

4. Toilets are the new measurement for a man worthy of marriage. Only in India, of course.

5. Los Angeles is the world’s leading blue jeans manufacturer. A pair of AG Jeans made is LA costs about $300.

6. Commander Chris Hatfield obviously had time on his hand while manning the International Space Shuttle Station. He began taking photos of earth from way up there and tweeting it to some 790,000 followers on earth. Simply amazing. I want an autographed coffee table book, Commander Hatfield. Please.

7. A high School in Georgia had its first racially integrated prom. In 2013. Yeah, this happened in 2013 and not in 1960 something.

8. There’s a pizza maker shortage going on right now. In Italy!

9. How do you say .gif? Is it “ghif” or “jif” (like the peanut butter)? It’s the latter. Don’t have the link, but I think I heard it on NPR

10. Saved the best for last: Want to be on a reality TV? Pretty much anyone can apply for this one. Just a couple of catches, though. It’s a trip to Mars where you will stay forever. I’m not kidding. Go here to see how many have already signed up.

toast on pretty plate

If toast were a conversation starter, it would be the drably simple, “Hi.”

Toast is my obligatory minimum dietary sustenance. When I am too busy, too sick or too tired to sit down for a satisfying meal, I have toast.

Similarly, “Hi” is my obligatory minimum social interaction. When I am too busy, too impatient or simply can’t be bothered to care about anybody, I say “Hi” and keep going.

Both these obligatory minimums were completely obliterated with the epiphany I had whilst unpacking my precious stack of mismatched china: Years of random scavenging through garage sales have yielded me a pretty assortment of china, tea towels and knick knacks.

I never pay more than a dollar for anything, so I really shouldn’t be so stingy in my use of them. But, I am. I store them safely in the corner of the tallest shelf in my pantry, cushioned by sheets of newspaper. And the only time I touch them is when I clean the shelf or move from one home to another.

“Such a waste.  I should be enjoying these pretty little things,” I said to myself as I unpacked the box of china yet again. And it’s no big deal if one breaks. A few dimes under my sofa cushions and a sunny Sunday at a flea market is sure to get me another. Perhaps one even prettier.

My china reminded me of my words. It’s a gift I’m told I have–People, strangers even, often tell me their darkest secrets and despairs with great ease. And I seem to always find the right words to say. Yet I don’t enjoy these interactions and avoid them with a hurried hi. Instead of being generous with my words, I stash them on an emotionally-detached shelf for use only in emergencies.

That’s just bad. Wasteful. I really should couch my “hi” in a mouthful of words that express genuine interest. With that, I decided to dress up both my toast and my greeting.

With that epiphany, I sat my too tired self down for a bare minimum of dietary sustenance on a pretty white plate filigreed in French blue. My toast never tasted so good :) 


budgie smugglers

Like junk mail, tedious epistolic family newsletters that arrive in my mailbox in pretty fat envelopes are immediately discarded. I love my family and friends, but don’t really want to know about their vacations, illnesses, and or the extra thimble added to their vast collection.

But, there is one exception–the Archer epistles. While they are probably the longest I receive, they are sprinkled with the wit and perspective that’s uniquely Julian Archer. As a bonus, I usually learn a new phrase or two. Today, it’s “budgie smugglers.” (I can just see where my American friends are going with this phrase.)

Got a three-page, single-spaced letter today–the latest in a series about the Archer family’s road trip across Europe. It begins:

“Greetings from a haggis-throw north of London. After months of meandering through the halls of castles, the gilded extravagance of cathedrals and the pomp and stuffiness of royal courts, it was SO refreshing to see this coat of arms above a doorway in Copenhagen. I have no idea what it represents, but the two blokes in the budgie smugglers are just wonderfully casual on this very formal continent.”

Julian's Email 13 May 2013