Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Holiday Causes Moral Dilemma for Area Teen

KNOXVILLE, TN Halloween is upon us again and 13-year-old Knoxville native Martin Erasmus Hinn is in turmoil. “I always hate this time of year,” he told the Doxology Press during an interview on Sunday afternoon. “Each year, I face the same problem: how can I get through October 31 without offending at least one of my parents?” You see, Martin’s procreators are both confessing Protestants, but while Mr. Hinn adheres to Reformed doctrine, Mrs. Hinn is a staunch Arminian. “Opposites attract, alright,” Martin mused. “They attract controversy. I mean, my parents couldn’t even agree on what name to give me. The anomaly they came up with is a twisted compromise that haunts me to this day.”

Named after Desiderius Erasmus (proponent of free will) and Martin Luther (proponent of free grace), Martin Erasmus Hinn (who prefers to be called Mr. H) has been plagued with identity issues ever since he can remember. “My father wanted me to attend the local Lutheran school, while my mom preferred the more Arminian-friendly Christian school,” he recalls. “But because they couldn’t come to an agreement, they finally just threw me into a public school, where secular heathen children made fun of my name every stinking day. My schooling experience was a nightmare of purgatorial proportions.”

The present, Martin says, is no better than the past. “How can I be expected to follow in the footsteps of two men who went in opposite directions?” he said, throwing up his hands in frustration. “My desire to please both my parents in how I grow spiritually is a constant battle. One minute my father is encouraging me for growing in my understanding of the doctrines of grace and the next my mother is chiding me for using grace as an excuse to not try harder. You think the Apostle Paul was conflicted in Romans 7? Let him try writing that chapter after walking in my shoes.”

All of this leads to the controversy surrounding October 31. “Mom wants me to be culturally relevant by participating in the customs of our day. That includes Halloween. She thinks I can be a light to the world by wearing a Bibleman or VeggieTales costume. One year, she made me dress up like Jesus and had me read from a script at each door. Instead of the typical ‘Trick or treat,’ I had to say, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone gives me candy, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.’”

“My father, on the other hand, doesn’t even want to hear the word Halloween in our house. He calls it the ‘h’ word. He prefers that I celebrate Reformation Day with him. After all, October 31 is the date on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg [in 1517]. Most Christians don’t even know Reformation Day exists, but my dad says that’s because they’re a bunch of ignorant Semi-Pelagians.

“So what do I do? My mother claims I may lose my salvation if I rebel against her wishes, and my father says my eternal security is in jeopardy if the spiritual fruit in my life keeps reaping nothing but rebellion against the head of the household. I’m literally darned if I do and darned if I don’t!”

Martin’s one attempt to provide a solution to the problem resulted in disaster. “I had just turned seven,” he said, his lips quivering in pain at the memory. “I convinced my dad to let me go trick-or-treating dressed as Martin Luther. The stipulation was that I was to exchange copies of the 95 Theses for the candy I received. Well, as it turned out, the first house I visited belonged to a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic. I swear, the guy must have been bipolar, or drunk, or both. He was so infuriated that he grabbed me and nailed my hood to his front door, along with the stack of 95 Theses I had with me. I escaped by slipping out of my monk’s robe and running home in my underwear. I hate this holiday!”

No one from The Associated Press contributed to this report
© 2006, Taung En Chiek

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Appreciating Film Score Music

Film scores are usually composed in a matter of weeks and the most ambitious films contain no more than 20 or so major themes. Composer Howard Shore, however, spent a minimum of twelve months on each of the Lord of the Rings films. In translating the rich tapestry of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth into musical expression, Shore also incorporated more than 50 different themes and motifs. The amount of research that went into creating this superb music defies comprehension. Consider this one excerpt from the “Music of The Lord of the Rings Films” booklet:

Gollum’s wretched theme is intertwined with the music for the History of the One Ring, which sighs the films to life with two prolonged rising pitches, a half-step apart. This same rising half-step can be heard in the Evil of the Ring/Sauron theme and, inverted, in the martial, clangorous music of Isengard. Isengard, however, inverts the figure, dipping down a half-step, then returning upwards, a figure that dead-sets it against the Fellowship theme, which begins with the same down-up-down shape transformed to a more stable and heroic whole-step. This circular sense of interconnectivity permeates Shores score not only to reinforce the cultural relationships present in Tolkien’s world, but also to highlight the most important dramatic concepts: dedication, seduction, purity, good and evil.

Now, imagine reading over forty pages of information like that (and this booklet only describes the first film!) and you’ll begin to understand the depth and creative intensity of Shore’s work.

The music in the trilogy contains a healthy dose of magnificent choral writing: several choirs and soloists were used to represent various characters, cultures, geographical locations, and situations. You can go to this web page to listen to selections from 19 of the more popular themes from the films. I’ve posted the links to my favorite samples from this list (most of which include choral elements).

Rivendell

The Nature Theme

Arwen

Lothlorien

Gondor

Ring Wraiths

Why the resurging excitement about LotR music? Well, next month the 4-disc Two Towers album will be released. (The 3-disc Fellowship of the Ring album—which I own, of course—was released last year.) Yes, it includes every second of music used in the film(!), in addition to some cues that weren’t used for the final cut(!). That’s over four hours of orchestral and choral beauty!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sola Scriptura, Part 2

In chapter 8 of When I Don’t Desire God, Piper discusses how to “wield the word” in the fight for joy. One key strategy is Bible memorization. He quotes author Dallas Willard:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our mind with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization.

Piper then says,

The joy-producing effects of memorizing Scripture and having it in my head and heart are incalculable. The world and its God-ignoring, all-embracing secularism is pervasive. In invades my mind every day. What hope is there to have a mind filled with Christ except to have a mind filled with his Word? I know of no alternative.

A few pages later, Piper explains why he places so much emphasis on this practice:

I spend this much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word of God to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the “drippings of the honeycomb.”

Like chapter 7, this chapter is acting as a catalyst to increase my passion for God’s Word. And since I’m not the greatest at memorization, I think I’m going to work on a relatively short passage: Psalm 86:8-13.

I’m rather excited about memorization as a whole and this passage in particular—for reasons that I will explain in a future post. For now, suffice it to say that it’s exciting and humbling to see God’s grace at work. And a great means of this grace that I’m receiving is When I Don’t Desire God. If you’re like me—naturally apathetic to God’s Word and disinclined to memorize portions of Scripture—I encourage you to check this book out!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How Hopeless Are You?

For a period of about three years (back in the mid-90’s), Bob Kauflin woke up every morning with the same thought: Your life is completely hopeless. Click here to discover what God showed him about hopelessness.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Spam: the Silver Lining

I think we can all agree that spam is evil. If Adam and Eve had been created in our age, the first result of the Fall would have been Adam’s inbox being flooded with spam.

Well, I recently received an unsolicited email that is well worth reading. It is filled with garbled sentences that make absolutely no sense, albeit in a hilarious fashion. I have posted a few examples below for your reading enjoyment.

  1. When an orbiting buzzard trembles, a wheelbarrow hides.
  2. When a garbage can is ridiculously feline, another chessboard over a wedding dress graduates from a highly paid carpet tack.
  3. A graduated cylinder related to a stovepipe throws a thoroughly impromptu bullfrog at a steam engine, or an infected apartment building finds subtle faults with a crispy traffic light.
  4. If the customer beyond a chessboard sells some minivan about the traffic light to some greasy blood clot, then a knowingly treacherous salad dressing panics.
  5. If a non-chalantly incinerated insurance agent plays pinochle with an often-fat tornado, then a scythe inside a dolphin gets stinking drunk.
  6. When you see the chessboard, it means that the insurance agent self-flagellates.
  7. Furthermore, the class action suit related to a microscope hesitates, and the familiar senator accidentally negotiates a prenuptial agreement with an avocado pit.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

“Together for the Gospel” This Is Not

In a unique display of symmetry, John Piper and Michael Jackson have teamed up to espouse the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. Okay, not really…but kind of. Check it out.

(Thanks to Tony Carter for providing the link on his blog.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sola Scriptura

Over the past few weeks, God has been working on my heart in a couple of areas. One of them is a growing appreciation for Scripture.

I think it started when I picked up John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God, which I’m still working through. This book is phenomenal and I would highly recommend it. (And if you’re completely strapped for cash, you can read the book online at the above link.) Chapter 7 is entitled, “The Worth of God’s Word in the Fight for Joy.” In this chapter, Piper details ten reasons why Scripture is so valuable. I don’t think I have ever read any other work that has so impressed upon my heart how valuable God’s Word is—and how desperate I am for it. (I won’t share the ten points here because I think you would most benefit from reading the chapter—and book!—yourself.) For it is in Scripture where God most clearly reveals Himself to me as my ultimate goal and my ultimate joy. As Piper says,

God can and does show himself in other ways, especially through the works of believers (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12; 1 Cor. 12:7). But none of them reveals God with the clarity and fullness of the Bible. All of them orbit around the sun of God’s written Word. And if the central gravitational power of the sun is denied, all the planets fly into confusion.

Then, Tony Carter spoke about the centrality of Scripture at church last Sunday. The Bible is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for, among other things, “instruction in righteousness” (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Well, if we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), then it stands to reason that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) seek Scripture. They consider it a great treasure. And like any treasure hunter does when he finds treasure, they store it up (i.e., in their hearts) for later use. They realize, with the Psalmist, the great worth of the law of the Lord: it revives the weary soul, it makes the simple wise, it rejoices the heart—in part because it enlightens the eyes of the heart (see Psalm 19).

As God reveals more and more sin in my life, I find Scripture to be an essential tool in cutting me loose from the dead weight of despair. May my joy in God increase as my delight in His Word increases.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Back to the Future—er, Past

I have been consistently and notoriously behind the times since, well, forever. (Maybe that’s a contradiction in terms.) I have yet to purchase an iPod or any form of portable audio device, unless you count the Walkman I owned a couple hundred years ago. The only reason I have a DVD player is because someone gave it to me for free. I still do my writing on a glorified Etch-A-Sketch. (Granted, it’s a bona fide computer, but not much of one.) And as you all know, I recently—or finally—purchased my first cell phone. I guess you could say I’m stuck in the past.

It may come as no surprise, then, that I bought my first video game soundtrack only last week. I’ve loved film scores for over a decade but I haven’t dabbled in any related subgenre. So yeah, purchasing my first game score was pretty exciting. I felt like I had burst onto the stage of the Modern Age.

The CD is Mercenaries, composed by Michael Giacchino and Chris Tilton. And yes, it rocks. Great themes and orchestration, and some magnificent choral writing as well. (Click here to listen to a five-minute suite from the score, the second half of which includes a sampling of the choral work.)

Admittedly, the album has been out for a couple of years. I could have been one of the first to preorder the CD and get a copy autographed by Chris Tilton himself. I mean, I listened to the online suite at the La-La Land Records site and really liked what I heard. So why did I wait until now? Well, it was on sale for the month of September only. You see, money talks. More appropriately, the prospect of paying less money is what did the talking. So did word-of-mouth praise for the album (and the fact that I’ve had some interaction with Chris Tilton), but the reduced price is what did it for me. Money well spent, let me tell ya.

So, that’s my music plug for the month.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Doctrine of (Political) Election

I’ve been finding it hard to decide on who to vote for in the upcoming elections. If you are a registered voter (and if you’re 18 or older you should be) and are struggling with the same dilemma, here are some thoughts from Robert P. George. Keep in mind that he grew up Democrat and “still feels twinges of nostalgia” for the party.

So, however much one might dislike Republican policies in other areas, it’s clear that the death toll [of unborn children] under the Democrats would be so large as to make it unreasonable for Catholic citizens, or citizens of any faith who oppose the taking of innocent human life, to use their votes and influence to help bring the Democratic party into power.

I find no cause for joy in this. I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I wish that the killing of embryonic and fetal human beings by abortion and in biomedical research were resolutely opposed by both parties so that we could cast our votes based on our assessments of the candidates’ and parties’ competing positions on taxation, immigration, education, welfare, health-care reform, national security, and foreign policy. It is hardly satisfactory that pro-life citizens—representing a variety of views on the range of issues in economic, social, and foreign policy—find themselves bound to the Republicans because the only viable alternative is a party that has abandoned its commitment to the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family by embracing abortion and embryo-destructive research.

Make of that what you will. But whatever your political leanings, please vote.

Spreading the Love

Many of you have probably heard the news, but Love 89’s Sharathon was the most productive Sharathon in the radio station’s history. Our goal was $560,000. By the final evening, listeners had pledged over $590,000. This means we not only have our budge for this year, but we can also begin the process of building two new transmitters (one in Morristown and one in Lenoir City), with a possible third tower sometime later. Everyone on staff has been greatly encouraged by God’s abundant faithfulness.