Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Orthodoxy of Orthodoxy

Dr. Scot McKnight, prolific author and Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies at North Park University, blogs at Jesus Creed. His blog is always a fascinating read, and if you've never been there before, bookmark it. He gracefully addresses contemporary and, at times, controversial issues. While I do not always agree with his conclusions, he always challenges me to think about my thinking. And that's a gifted teacher, no matter how you define it. I have great respect for Dr. McKnight.

Scot is neither Catholic nor Orthodox so you do not have to be afraid of such strange and deceptive teachings taking you captive (excuse sarcasm). The following series, "The Gospel of Niggle: The Orthodoxy of Orthodoxy" was inspired by two scholars, Pagels and Ehrman, choosing heresy over orthodoxy. Scot's conclusions are insightful and compelling, though I wish he would push further with his line of reasoning. You may wish that he wouldn't have pushed so far. But please read it.

The Gospel of Niggle 1
The Gospel of Niggle 2
The Gospel of Niggle 3

The series, though Scot does not go so far, reminds me of a favorite Thomas Howard quote (the brother of Elisabeth Elliot and a Catholic convert): "All the heresiarchs believed in the inspiration of the Bible, but it took the Church to say, 'This is orthodox' or 'That is heterodox.' "

Monday, May 29, 2006

The View below Five Feet

This morning my oldest, Sophie, and I were looking at a picture of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Poland. She asked how old he was. I said that he had recently turned 79. Sophie, in her inimitable way, said, "Dang! He's almost dead!"

May it not be so. Long live B16!

Friday, May 26, 2006

A/C in NC

We, especially we, live in perpetual comfort. If it's a little muggy, we switch on the A/C. If it's a little chilly, we switch on the heat. We use the kids as an excuse - babies, after all, can't re-cover themselves in the cold . . . or they might overheat in the, well, heat.

But not this year. Though I still can't hardly believe it, we have not yet turned on the A/C in our home. Where we live, in NC, A/C is a necessity. They've had A/C down here since before the Civil War - it's one of the reasons Sherman (ptoo, ptoo) marched. It's been a mild spring, but even so we've had some doozies.

Right now, mid-morning, it's 80 and muggy and I'm sweating profusely - most pig-like. I'm an XX-Largish guy, though for comfort (for me and for others) I go for the triple-X size. I sweat big. But I've always sweated easily, even when I was an underwear model for Calvin Klein.

So where was I? Ah, yes, it's 80 and I'm sweating. I smell, of course, like a dozen masculine roses, but I am a little slick. It's supposed to get into the low 90s today and I'm seriously considering flipping on the A/C. Last night was intolerably hot in the house and as soon as the kids were all in bed, I began haunting the house in my skivvies. Laura went to bed. Who can blame her?

Even so, I held out and did not turn on the A/C as I slid the recliner into the middle of the living room and watched three episodes of 24.

Will has a doctor's appointment at 3:30, so I might hold off till we get home.

Who am I kidding? My fingers are slipping off the keys.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


We've named our baby Torey.

Now I had brought up naming the baby with Laura several days ago and she simply left the room. It was too painful. So I've been waiting and praying. We were not far enough along to know the sex of the baby, so there was also some uneasiness at naming our baby due to that ignorance. It surprised me, therefore, when I came home from my HOSEA class at church on Tuesday night and she told me that she was thinking about naming the baby Victoria, a name we had tossed around for years.

A little background information: Probably ten years ago we heard a radio program about a little girl named Victoria (Torey) who was dying of cancer. She so impressed us that we fell in love with the name. Now, I also grew up knowing a Torey, and because it's such an unusual name, I was a little hesitant about using it. But as far as I know the Torey I know is not an axe-murderer.

When she mentioned the name, I began grinning and immediately knew it was the right name for our littlest girl. Let me tell you why.

When I went to church that night, I arrived early and so I entered the sanctuary and prayed for a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament. I asked the Lord to give us peace about a name since we did not know the sex of the baby.

Immediately that prayer came to mind.

But that's not the only reason I was smiling. Earlier that same day, I was outside with the kids. I was on the laptop while they were playing and I overheard the yellow-haired child playing with her sister Anna. Anna was a horse, and Avery was comforting her: Avery said, "It's okay, Torey. It's okay." Now the yellow-haired child, as far as I know, has never heard the name Torey before. We did watch Barbie Mermaidia recently, and one of the characters was named Nori, but that is as close as I can get. So, quite honestly, when she said "Torey," it surprised me. (My wife, by the way, didn't hear this exchange and had never heard Avery use the name Torey on that day or ever before. And I had not mentioned this story to her until she suggested the name.)

After hearing Avery use the name, after praying specifically for peace about a name and gender, and after my wife suggested the same name, we were both a little giddy with the Lord's guidance in the matter and thankful for His presence with us.

We believe our baby is a little girl. And we have named her Victoria Hope Lyons.

We love you, Torey.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tonight, Tomorrow, and the Next Day

It's that time of the year again: Season finales. Tonight it's Lost. So don't bother calling me between eight and eleven o'clock this evening. I'll laugh at you because I don't have TiVo or any other digital recording device. I do, however, have a largish bag of piratey, peanut M&M's. Ar. So don't even think about calling. And please, no tragedies between those hours. Save your heart attacks and strokes for later. Well, okay, if it's infarction-serious, you can call me. I'm sure Laura would be able to take a message.

The season finale of 24 was excellent, if only for the last five minutes. China, I'm so sorry, but Jack's about to open up a big-ol' can of Whup-Ass on y'all. (I have the last half of Season 2 waiting to be watched sometime later. I need to hire a nanny so I can get through these past seasons.)

I also have some writing I need to get started on: an article on the Discipline of Celebration. It'll be interesting to see what kind of writing comes out of my soul on that topic at this time in my life.

By the way, the new Tyndale site for the NLT is up and running. You can find my meditations on the spiritual disciplines under the "Spiritual Journey" category.

Peace be with you, wherever you are.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Laura and I appreciate your prayers.

We are doing much better, though there are difficult moments. For instance, yesterday in the car the baby came up in conversation and we explained to the kids how the baby was healed and whole in the presence of Christ. Then the yellow-haired child said, with the innocence and sweetness that only a three year old can manage, that she wished that Jesus would just give us back the baby.

But we're managing. God through Christ heals all that is broken and redeems all that is lost. We have no doubts about that.

We do not go through the minor and major tragedies of our lives wondering about God's providence or His sovereignty. It is assumed. We do not ask Why? because we do not live our lives expecting paradise in a broken world. We are marked for some suffering. We do not, however, live our lives in fear of this suffering because we are known by God and we live in community. We are broken icons, and suffering will come, and will come necessarily because of our brokenness and for our healing.

Christ suffered. We find peace in the knowledge that He understands, that He knows. And we find peace in our participation in His suffering and His redemption. We better understand our stories of suffering in light of Jesus' story (the Passion in particular), and, in the midst of that contextualization, we begin to find meaning.

But suffering is still suffering. So we thank you for coming alongside us and quietly and simply offering us love, prayers, and presence, real or spiritual.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Cry Too

I would not relive this week.

Though I've been waiting to write about it, we found out about a month ago that we would be having our fifth baby at the end of December, on the 29th.

Laura started bleeding mid-week, however, and yesterday morning we discovered that we had lost the baby. This baby is the first we've lost and, honestly, I don't know how to grieve. It comes over me unexpectedly. I cry. I want to escape from it, but I can't.

I don't know how to grieve. God is present here, in my home, in my sorrow, in my death. How that is and moves forward within the severity of it all, I don't know. It doesn't surprise me. I don't even know how to grieve.

I pray for my baby, though I know I do not need to. (Daddy loves you.)

I desperately want to hold her, and now I never will. I will never be able to teach her how to pray. Or what a duck says. Or the sound of my voice. Or the rhythm of hers. I will never sit with her on the back porch and watch a sunset. She will never fall asleep on my chest or in my arms. I will never hear her laugh. I will never comfort her, or need to. I will never bore her with Shakespeare. I will never give her piggy-back rides. We will never wrestle.

There will be no hugs. No kisses.

And so I die. Resurrect me, Father.

And I don't want to talk to you about it. This post is not for you. I need this, because praying and crying and writing are the only things, it seems, I know how to do right now. I don't know so many things.

The record of my son or my daughter whom I will never hold begins today.

I cry. I pray. I write. But mostly I just cry.

Cold, cold water surrounds me now
And all I've got is your hand
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now,
Or am I lost?

No one's daughter, allow me that
And I can't let go of your hand
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
or am I lost?

O, I love you
Don’t you know I love you
And I always am
Will you come with me?

Cold, cold water surrounds me now
And all I've got is your hand
Lord, can you hear me?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me?

Am I lost with you?
Am I lost with you?
Am I lost with you?

- Damien Rice

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Coca-Cola Blak, Revisited

I finally got a chance to try Blak. We picked up a four-pack of 8-oz bottles on Sunday and there are two bottles sitting in the refrigerator three days later. Enough said, I suppose. Now I was pretty sure I wouldn't like the Coke-coffee fusion before I even tried it - I'm not a big coffee fan. Sometimes, but not often. Mostly I like the idea of it. (I'm the same way with beer. I want to like it, I really do. Maybe I just haven't found the right beer.) So no surprises there.

What disappointed me was the bottle. It's so sweet-looking in the picture. But, in reality, it is not. It's ugly. It's butt-ugly. The small glass bottle has a plastic cap rather than the metal cap of the picture. Strike one. The design and logo are all on a thin foam wrapper glued to the glass bottle. Strike two. And it's ugly. Strike three. So Blak the con of man.

It simply isn't cool. Hell, I'm such a slave to the Coca-Cola juggernaut that if it were cool, I probably would still buy it and try not to grimace as I choked down the Blakness.

At least you can cook with beer.

So Dark the Ron of Cannes

It doesn't look good for The DaVinci Code. They didn't even like it in Cannes.

ht: Jimmy Akin

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Squealing Tires, Heavy Boxers

On the way back from Wal-mart today, my first trip out in two-and-a-half weeks thank you very much, I almost got hit by two vehicles. A school bus suddenly turned into a church parking lot and the long line of closely packed vehicles that had been following close behind it came to a rather abrupt stop. I had to work my own brakes to stop the mini-van in time, sending my phone and some groceries off the passenger seat and onto the floorboard.

That's when I heard the squealing.

I looked in my driver's side mirror and saw a large, white truck still traveling quite quickly and already at my bumper. I braced myself for an impact that didn't come. Somehow he skidded to the left of the mini-mini-van into the lane of on-coming traffic and stopped with his front bumper near my front bumper. I am not claiming any miracle here. I just don't know how it happened because my eyes were squeezed shut and I was screaming like a little girl. When I opened my eyes, I saw a long, white caddy squealing toward the other side of my mini-mini-mini-van. The caddy's careening ended in the grass on the right side of me.

I didn't bother anyone with any particular gestures of good will, happy as I was to be alive.

But when the vehicles ahead of me began moving again, I sat motionless, took a deep breath, and thanked God for His mercy.

Crazy delicious.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I'm hopped-up.

"Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen" (Romans 11, NLT).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some of That, A Little of This

I haven't felt much like writing lately. Mostly because I've been watching too much 24, says Alison. But there are other reasons. For instance, my last post ended up being excessively sarcastic. The post remained up overnight and, the next morning, at the suggestion of my wife and the conviction of the Holy Spirit (that's nearly the same thing, isn't it?), I deleted it. That meant that I also, painfully, deleted Chad's comment, which made me laugh.

I've been a little more sarcastic than usual lately. The deleted post and one other event helped me realize it and so I've asked for grace to deal with that attitude, which is simply bitterness dressed up in tights and a cartwheel ruff.

I have about 16 hours of freelancing due by Monday, which is problematic since I just received two more 24 discs today from Netflix. I am hardpressed from both directions, having the desire to insert the disc and be with Jack, for that is very much better; yet to remain on with the company offering the freelance opportunity is more necessary for my family's sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall spend my time freelancing.

. . . . .

I haven't had a vehicle in nearly two weeks. You stay-at-home moms understand what I'm saying. It's not that I have anywhere to go, of course, it's simply that I can't go anywhere. I'm naturally a home-body, but I also despise when something is forced upon me - even something I enjoy. (This is why I read so few of the required novels while earning my undergraduate degree in English.) Flat tires, serpentine belts - nothing major, just lots of minor problems. Gremlins exist.

Boy, those new Mustangs are hot, aren't they?

. . . . .

No one is sick, and we have been given so very much. My side/back has been hurting. Some of that has to do with the fact that I eat too much Cheez Whiz, but I've been walking for nearly four months now and the pain doesn't seem to be getting much better. The side/back pain comes and goes. Quite frankly, it's probably my mattress as much as it is my extra padding. On some mornings it's difficult to get up, and I have to find a semi-comfortable way to roll out of bed. Grunting and gasping are involved as well as several sharp intakes of breath. But it's not so bad. I'm not chewing on Ibuprofen yet.

. . . . .

I've been wrestling with the kids, enjoying the boy demanding "Oompa," enjoying watching him laugh and dance during the songs. He favored Tim Burton's version today. The raccoon has this laugh that is irresistible - it's that self-conscious, public laugh that leaps out, and never slips. It's a reminder of baptism, of newness, of life. It makes me laugh in spite of everything else, along with everything else, and through everything else.

. . . . .

I've discovered Francis Cardinal Arinze from Nigeria - the man is wise and witty; he has an excellent accent and a podcast. Arinze rocks. Can I say that about a cardinal?

. . . . .

My wife got home from work today around 4:45. It was good to see her.

Friday, May 05, 2006


It was two years ago.

We were driving to church, and I was explaining to my oldest, who had told a lie, how people wouldn't believe her if she told lies. I told her how important it is to always tell the truth.

Five minutes passed.

"Daddy," she said, "do you still believe in me?"

My heart broke under the weight of her words. A thousand times Yes! I wanted to scream. I wished that I could pour into her the knowledge of my belief in her like I could fill a cup - filling it and filling it until confidence, born of love, flowed out from her as from a spring. "Yes, I believe in you. Of course. Don't ever think that I don't."

At church, our little house church prayed that God would use it. We prayed for our needs and for the needs of others.

When I prayed, I praised God for His goodness. As the words came to me, I said them. And as I said the words, my heart broke again: "Lord God, Father, thank you for believing in me."

I choked on the words and, no sooner were they out, began to weep. My chest began to heave with the weight and release of it. I left the room as quickly as I could, leaving my prayer where it was.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Lost was a shocker last night, eh?

(I've got a hunch about Henry Gale, by the way. I think he's el capitan of the Others. But that's just my hunch.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

God Is Love

Paradisal weather - blue sky, soft breeze, sunny and mild. The kids behave well outside with Stuff to do, Stuff to explore. A popped bag of popcorn lies ripped open - the kids eat the salty-sweet innards, wild beasts around a greasy bag. A face dips in. We are at a picnic table and my side hurts. The reel mower is still. The front yard and the back lot need mowing, but I have no fuel. And my side hurts. And there is popcorn on the table. And I feel hollow inside, like this bag of popcorn, as if Something is missing, a piece of a puzzle - Something inside wants to roam, wants to stay, calls me to peace and war. Something wanting Something. Something pulling at itself to stay put. Something fighting with itself for peace.


Heart of pine, heart of balsa - longing for sterner stuff. Something oakish. Something yew-strong.

I know this wood, soft but strong. Why does it long for something without a name? Groaning after Something named, though terrible, is sufferable. But yearning for this nameless Something - how do I tag It? Wooden heart, structurally strong, building God knows what. Pumping sap into limb and leaf. For life and love.

God is life. God makes and makes and makes - and new wood stretches into old. And old wood stretches into new. And still God makes and makes and makes. He withholds nothing. He gives and gives and gives. He gives without reserve. And His reserves are always full.

My heart finds rest in Thee. It is yew-strong, for God is love.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Netflix Is Screwing with Me, and More Heartfelt Thoughts

Season 2, disc 1 of 24 is in the number one position of my queue. It's clearly available. And yet, these people over at Netflix skipped it to give me Pride and Prejudice, which had a "Short Wait" and was in position 3 instead. Are these people on my wife's payroll?

Not that it matters to me. I don't need to watch 24. I can turn it off whenever I want. (Bastards!)

. . . . .

My boy is playing with a big red race car as he wears a purple clip in his hair. Something is amiss here. It may be time to shave his head.

. . . . .

My wife and I were talking about the beauty of the trees' leaves in the spring. Are they a different shade of green than mid-summer leaves? Is it simply their presence following their long absence? Is it that there is no corruption yet in them? They are a new creation, beautiful and perfect.

Speaking of the perfection of beauty, yesterday's Mass was blurred by my tears. A baby was baptized (a beautiful and perfect baby), the congregation was sprinkled with water to remind us of our own baptism, and we feasted on the Word of God in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist.

I find myself yearning for Mass by Tuesday. By Friday, I feel as if I've been away for a month.

Once a week is not enough.

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"

O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Season 1

I watched 24: Season 1 last week. Great show. That's all I have to say. I'm going to work in Season 2 a little more gingerly into my Netflix viewings this week due to the rather strong suggestion by my wife. No problem.