Monday, September 30, 2013

A video in which Millennials apologize for how awful they are

Last week I posted this rant in which I shared how tired I am of people saying how awful Millennials are. But then Clay Morgan sent me this video in which Millennials apologize for being terrible. I thought you might like it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Speaking at the Texas @epicmovement this weekend! Here's this morning's worship band (with ukelele)

This weekend, A and I flew to Austin, Texas, for me to speak at the Fall Retreat for the Texas Epic Movement.

The Epic Movement is a ministry devoted to bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world through Asian American students and faculty.

And the students here -- there are 200 of them -- are amazing people. They're funny, fun-loving, caring people who are deeply in love with Jesus and one another. It's a great crowd to hang out with. And of course A is having a lot of fun, too. I told her last night that she could stay up hanging out with the college students as late as she wanted, and I have no idea what that translated to for bedtime, because I was sound asleep by the time she came back to the room.

I've been speaking about what it means to be "rooted in God's love" which is the theme for the weekend, coming out of Ephesians 3:16-19:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (NIV)
Anyway, I speak twice more this weekend, once tonight and then tomorrow morning.

I took a video of the worship band this morning, because I enjoyed this song that they were doing. And because if you're using a ukelele during worship, you have my undivided attention. Enjoy:

Here's your Saturday morning funny cat video.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A talk with @mattleeanderson about his new book and how to ask questions well

This week you can check out a question and answer time with Matthew Lee Anderson, who just wrote a book about the difference between questions and doubt, what questions are appropriate for Christians, and much more. It makes interviewers feel awkward when someone is sitting there, judging your questions as you ask them. It's a great conversation. I think you'll enjoy it.

You can also join the giveaway to win a copy of Anderson's The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith.

Some of the recent StoryMen podcasts you might have missed include author John Otte, comic writer and teacher Christy Blanch,  author Jeff Goins, Leanne Shirtliffe, Ally Vesterfelt and Lorie Langdon and several episodes where JR., Clay and I discuss everything from liturgy to our favorite historical moments that we wish were movies. You can find all those at the link as well.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thoughts on "Christian Fiction"

Yesterday I shared a moment when two booksellers at a major bookstore talked about Christian fiction, and one told the other that Wendell Berry didn't count as Christian fiction because "everything he writes is excellent."

As the sole criterion, this doesn't seem a fair way to determine the status of which books are Christian fiction and which are not. In fact, I'm certain that this is shorthand used by the bookstore employee to say something different, something that has to less to do with "Christian fiction" than it appears.

If you start listing the authors who are Christian but are considered "mainstream" it's a pretty interesting list: Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, Flannery O'Connor, Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Graham Greene and Leif Enger would all be on this list. All of these authors have overt Christian themes in their books, with Christian characters (including priests, pastors and so on). They are all exceptional writers, so it could be that their work has "transcended" the title of Christian fiction.

And then the Lord God smote Borders
for shelving the Bible in the "fiction" section.
I think it's something else, though. It's not only that the writing is excellent. I don't think what the bookseller was saying was that Christian fiction is all terrible, but rather that "Christian fiction" as a genre has nothing to say to her.

We see this in other genres defined by status, identity or affinity group. Women's fiction is not for men. "Asian-american fiction" is about the Asian-American experience and isn't "universal." Pretty much any time someone attaches an adjective to the term "fiction" that is not directly related to genre, what they're saying is, "This book is for someone other than me." Or, in the best case scenario, it can be used within that community to say "here are books about us and the things that matter to us."

All that to say, when people outside the Christian community call something "Christian fiction" what they mean is, this book is not about my life. It doesn't intersect with my needs, concerns or life. That's tragic, because the deepest idea of the good news about Jesus should be that it has something to say to every human being on earth.

Now, for some people that's going to be okay. There are Christian authors whose primary audience is and will continue to be only Christians. But it seems to me that at least some of our work should be of central value to the lives of those outside the Christian community.

So, what do you think? What examples would you give of "Christian fiction" that would be good for people who aren't Christians? What are some ideas of what fiction by Christians should involve/include/be about to be of use and interest on a universal rather than narrow scale?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm so sick of people bashing the Millennials/Generation Y. 6 reminders for X and the Boomers.

It seems like it's about once a week that some ill-advised article makes the rounds, assuring Generation X and the Baby Boomers that they are superior to the Millenials/Generation Y crowd. Maybe we've forgotten what people said about our generations. Baby Boomers have an excuse, I guess, since they're getting to that age.

Here are a few reminders that Boomers and X are more like Y than we want to admit:

1. Generation Y believes "they can do anything." Unlike Generation X, who only thought we could do ALMOST anything.

2. Generation Y is entitled and lazy. I have this vague memory of being told the same thing about my generation. Wait for the money quote in that Newsweek article:

"We have a generation (or at least part of a generation) whose every need has been catered to since birth. Now, when they finally face adulthood, they expect the gift-giving to continue. I'm 28 and I'll never own a house, whines the Generation Xer. I'm 25 and I don't have a high-paying job, says another."

3. At least the Baby Boomers were dependable. They weren't slackers.

4. Generation Y won't move out of their parent's houses. In Generation X it was only the men who were staying at mom and dad's.

5. UGH. I'm so tired of all the Gen Y kids building their lives around social media. And if there is one thing none of us can stand it's all the Gen Yers taking "selfies" of themselves all the time and putting them on social media. GROW UP.


Bullying leads to bullying, that's what I think. The Boomers picked on X, calling us the crybabies (in the Washington Post? Come on, people, how about some professionalism?). Now X and the Boomers are teamed up to whine and complain about Y. Which is no surprise since the Boomers have been whining about Generation X being whiners since before we were born.

For all you Millenials/Gen Yers out there, take heart. There eventually came a day when the Boomers acknowledged that all their complaining about our complaining was unfair. They admitted that we weren't slackers. They realized that just because we got things done differently, it didn't mean it wasn't getting done. And they admitted all that in Time Magazine (in your face, Washington Post).

And guess what? After that WE TOOK OVER. Generation Y, your time is coming. It's already started. Sure, you're being called lazy narcissists, but the same articles are now saying you're going to save us all. 

It's your world, Generation Y. Show us what you can do.

Eavesdropping with Matt Episode Sixty-Eight ("That's not a Christian book!")

Dedicated to the fine staff at Powell's Books, who were sorting through the books I was selling, trying to decide which ones to purchase. They pulled aside for this whispered conversation.

Staff (to his manager): I know we don't buy much Christian fiction. But what about Christian fiction audio books?

Manager (looking at the audio books): These are not Christian fiction.

Staff: They're not?

Manager: This is Wendell Berry. Everything he writes is excellent. That's not Christian fiction.

Ouch. That hurts. More thoughts on this tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read more Eavesdropping With Matt. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Some thoughts on eyeballs and parties from my 4 year old

M: Daddy, if my eyeballs fell out, and there was a party, I would still go to the party.

Me: Oh yeah?

M: Yes. And all the people would say, ew, your eyeballs fell out, get out of this party!

Me: And what would you do?

M: I'm not going to leave a party just because my eyeballs fell out. I would just stay at the party.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What my kids plan to be for Halloween

At breakfast yesterday my kids volunteered what they want to be for Halloween this year.

10 year old: I'm going to be a Minion!

12 year old: I'm going to be a vampire!

4 year old: I just want to be with you!


Monday, September 09, 2013

Twenty-two non-fiction Books about Justice

Last week I asked for recommendations on books about justice. I'm speaking at a conference this spring where that will be the theme and I feel like I need more study on the topic.

Here are the suggestions that people sent in. I thought you'd find them of interest:

Walter Shaffer suggests:

Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller
City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre
Bloodlines by John Piper
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Kelsey Kasner added Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson, which examines "the daily choices we make, many of which have truly global impact."

Friend and author David Jacobsen suggested Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma and D.R. Jacobsen. That's right! He suggested the book he co-wrote! Don't worry, I've only heard good things about this book. It's time for me to get it.

CJ Martin suggested The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen. Then she revealed that she knew a bunch of books about Christian lawyers and their role in justice, including Redeeming Law by Michael Schutt, The Lawyer's Calling by Joseph Allegretti (her favorite), The Counselor at Law by Robert Cochran and Can A Good Christian be a Good Lawyer edited by Thomas Baker and Timothy Floyd. Lawyered!

Jason Joyner told us to check out The Just Church by Jim Martin.

Abby Ritter mentioned Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins.

Angie Hufford suggested:

Generous Justice by Tim Keller
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma (and David Jacobsen! A second rec for that one!)
Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr

JR. Forasteros eventually sent me some recommendations when I harassed him via text message. He suggested I check out Justification by N.T. Wright and Miroslav Volf's Free of Charge. Mostly because he has a big brain.

Two more books I stumbled across that I'm thinking about are The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel and, of course, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lastly, two excellent suggestions from Robert J. Wilson and Chip Downs:



Justice League

So. What do you think? Any more suggestions? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Friday, September 06, 2013

I finally found it. The first novel by one of my favorite authors!

Every writer has a pantheon of Favorite Super Writers. For me, it's people like Flannery O'Connor and John Steinbeck. They're writers who I look at and think, "I could never write as well as them." Every time I read one of their stories or novels I learn something. I can read and re-read their books over and over. I've read East of Eden probably ten times. I've read some of O'Connor's short stories twenty or thirty times.

Once I find one of these writers, I read everything of theirs I can find. Their stories, novels, essays, interviews, everything.

Gene Wolfe is one of those writers for me. He's amazing. I don't always understand what's happening in his books, but I always love them, and I can't wait for every new book of his coming out. I've found all of his old stuff, read it all. Except for one book. I've never been able to find his first novel, Operation Ares.

But this week I found a copy! I was buying my kids a couple books at Powell's and I dropped by and there it was. Three bucks!

I'm pretty excited, not least because many people agree that it's one of Wolfe's least accomplished novels. Which means there's this slight chance that I might read it and think, "I could beat that."

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

School's starting again! Pics of my kids on the first day of school.

Z and A are back in school as of today.

Z is off to seventh grade, believe it or not, and A is in fifth!

Here they are:

I can't believe it. These are two great kids and I'm really proud of them.

M's preschool doesn't start until next week. It's possible we might get a picture, if she's feeling generous that morning.