Showing posts from January, 2013

Finding Paradise Lost

Poetry is not a literary format I readily enjoy. For me, sitting down with a Shakespeare play lends itself more to boredom and frustration than anything else. However, I happened to marry an English major who practically adores the seventeenth-century poet John Milton. After hearing Shannon explain the intriguing premise of Milton’s epic Paradise Lost , I finally agreed to read through the poem with her. Having finished, I can heartily say two things. First, there is no way I would have ever completed the poem without Shannon as my guide; she constantly provided explanations for the epic similes, archaic language, and Renaissance spelling. Second, and maybe paradoxically, I heartily believe that Paradise Lost is one of the greatest poems ever written in the English language, worthy of study and admiration. It is rather like digging for gold: hard and dirty business, but providing a wealth of reward. Why do I enjoy Paradise Lost so much? One reason is the mesmerizing nature of

2012 Booklist: Classics, New and Old

We have looked at the first five of my top ten reads from 2012. Here is the second half of my list. The Horse and His Boy , C. S. Lewis Historically, I have not been a huge fan of the Narnia series. It was a pleasant surprise, then, that I found this story to be quiet entertaining. While the ending may be a bit anticlimactic, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular tromp through the world of Narnia. Spectacular Sins , John Piper This book attempts to reconcile the sovereignty of God with the problem of suffering through a unique approach—by delving into six Biblical stories of “spectacular” (i.e., large and important) sins in the Bible: the rebellion of Satan, humanity’s fall, the pride of Babel, the sale of Joseph, the “tainted” kingship of the Davidic line, and Christ’s betrayal by Judas Iscariot. Piper seeks to show how even the most spectacular sins fail to nullify God’s good purposes—that evil is ultimately used by God as the source of its own suicide. If you

2012 Booklist: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

At the start of another year, I thought it would be fun to list my ten favorite books from 2012. “Favorite” might be a bit of a stretch, simply because I only read fifteen books. However, I don’t need to bore my audience with a review of Buying and Selling a Home by the editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine (although I would actually recommend that book to first-time home buyers). Because Shannon and I enjoy reading to each other, some of the books on this list were read to me. Hence, my occasional reference to “our” thoughts and responses in some places. Due to its length, my list of top ten reads from last year is divided into two posts. The first five books are below. The second five will be featured in next Tuesday’s post, accompanied by my highly coveted* Book of the Year Award. Note that this list is not numbered—and is most certainly not listed in order of importance. The Hunger Games , Suzanne Collins Suzanne Collins’ writing draws you in and k

What’s in a Name?

You may have noticed some changes taking place around here lately. Several weeks ago, I updated the layout and design of the blog. It is slightly more modern, but without completely abandoning the ancient, historical feel I intended at the beginning. Now the big revisions have taken place: switching the URL from to, and replacing the original blog title, Four Scores and Seven Films Ago , with a new title, Happier Far . When I first created this blog in January of 2006, I decided on a title that incorporated my love of American history and my affinity for instrumental motion picture scores. The lengthy subtitle of the blog gave me practically unlimited freedom to write about whatever I wanted: Art. Life. Joy. All find their greatest expression in and through one Source: the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the spiritually dead, the Fountain of lasting pleasure. Apart from Christ, art is a mere distraction, life a mere triviality,

Surprised by Sin

Last week , we briefly touched on the foresight of God. He can see what lies ahead and He can fulfill His plans for the future. As Isaiah 46:10 points out, only God can declare the beginning from the end. Or, as the NLT puts it, “ Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens.” It’s hard to surprise someone who sees what’s coming before it gets there. When nothing is unexpected, nothing is shocking. There is plenty in life that surprises us, but nothing is unexpected to God. This truth can encourage the Christian who finds himself surprised and disoriented by his sin. For example, see how God’s foreknowledge informed Christ’s interaction with Peter in Luke 22. During the Last Supper, Jesus revealed something that He knew was going to happen:   And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethr