August 29, 2008

Big Changes

Well, my blogging (again) has been abysmally inconsistent of late. But this time I actually have a good excuse. My wife and kids and I have now moved to Shakopee, Minnesota, where we are taking up residence in our "new" house. We bought a 1938 house in the old part of town, and we are loving it. It is in a great neighborhood, with lots of things within walking distance, such as a library, coffee shop, gas station, post office, a few restaurants, a couple parks, and more. You get the idea. The house has needed some minor work, including some painting, which we have been busy working on, and will need some minor structural work, which we're having done in a few weeks.

The other, maybe bigger, change, is that I am now officially a stay-at-home dad. My twin boys, Paul and Lucas, are 11 months old, and are crawling around on the floor right now trying to get their hands on the computer. My wife has taken her Spanish teaching job again, and I'm now taking over the full-time parenting. I'm going to be doing some freelance book work from home (I specialize in typesetting and project management, though I also do a little cover design and maybe some light editing), so that makes it a really good situation for me to stay home. And I'm very excited to spend all of this time with my boys. Though it is going to be something of an adjustment. This last two weeks we've been trying to get into some good routines.

What this will mean for my blogging and reading habits I'm not sure yet, though I'm hoping that once things get settled a bit more it will mean finding regular time to read and regular time to blog. I've already got a start on some good reading, and this post and a few on my other little blog (What James Reads) seem to point toward a promising start to the blogging as well. I've also taken up some Greek study, something I've been wanting to do for years. I'm starting with the basics, using William Mounce's book, Greek for the Rest of Us. This also includes instructional videos on So I hope it's a good first step. I'm already relatively comfortable with some very basic Greek, and pretty good with a lexicon or other study tools, but hope this will be a step toward better skills. So that's been another daily discipline.

So there's what's been going on. They boys say hi.

August 28, 2008

William P. Young, The Shack

I've been very slow posting since we just finished moving and have been gettin settled, but I'm finally trying to catch up on some books I've finished recently. The first is The Shack. This book has become quite well known, and I dare say notorious, over the past weeks, and there's been a lot of discussion on the Web about it: it's theological underpinnings, it's quality as literature, etc. I recommend John Stackhouse's posts: post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4; also the review by Ben Witherington.

Because it has been so much talked about, I won't either summarize the plot or give a detailed theological critique. Both of those things have been undertaken elsewhere. What I will do, though, is give a brief appreciation of this great little book.

I think Young has written a powerful and imaginative tale dealing with important questions many Christians wrestle with, especially concerning justice and suffering. I love his imaginative portrayal of the Trinity as Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu. Though I think what has been said elsewhere does ring true: this isn't a systematic theology text, it is fiction, so it shouldn't be expected to fully and completely flesh out the doctrine of the Trinity. But I think it does illumine one great element of it: the tri-personal nature of God and the beauty of the interrelation between the persons. God's unity may get a little neglect in this portrayal, but I think that is okay, especially because modern Christians seem to have no problem with the oneness of God, but often neglect the Trinitarian tri-personality. That said, I also think the main thrust of the book is spectacular in it's power to confront the reader with the deep questions of suffering, tragedy, and trust. I know for me, it was especially convicting to be reminded that it was only in believing that God is really good that I could really trust him. The insight seems so simple, but its presentation made it profound.

In all, I do highly recommend this little book. It's certainly not perfect, but I am convinced that it can be a powerful story of God's love and grace. And, hopefully it will insight curiosity and interest in the deeper theological issues it touches on.