This past weekend, after my dad and I ascended and descended Mt. Whitney in 24 hours, we were driving to Fresno and ended up chatting about music writing. He mentioned how The Beatles were fairly unique in their time for writing their own music, and I was surprised and essentially unaware that many artists do not write their own music. He put on a Sara Bareilles audiobook, in which she discussed her view that the best music comes from an artist’s own “organic” creation. While the following is certainly not a direct parallel, the conversation made me think of how we live in an age of information. While SoundCloud, book self-publishing sites, and blogging all provide new opportunities to put our own thoughts out there, we often turn to a search engine or a book for easy access to thoughts that are not our own. Now, it’s not that when we try to be creative our thoughts have never existed in a person before; it’s that the access to a search engine or 2,000 years of historical theology replace the act of deep thinking and individual critical thinking. We don’t have our best moments with the Lord during a sermon. Being fed the word of God by a biblical preacher is essential and one of my favorite parts of life. But who would deny that our closest moments with the Father are on our knees in prayer, spent in His Word in a quiet space, or out in nature away from a civilization now characterized by distraction? All of these situations share the fact that nobody else is feeding us information or what to think.
I recently finished two books I had been looking forward to for a long time: Russell Moore’s Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel and Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. For quite awhile I had been thinking how I could consider myself a reader without reading the latter. And I have always enjoyed Russell Moore’s speaking and writing, so Onward was a treat. Three of my favorite quotes from Moore’s book are below.
- “We must see even our most passionate critic not as an argument to be vaporized but as a neighbor to be evangelized.”
- “The kingdoms of the moment, whatever they are, seem more important than the kingdom of Christ, without our ever even realizing it. That’s why our blood pressure is more likely to rise when we hear someone disagree with us about our political party or our sports team or an item in the news than when we hear faulty teaching from a Christian pulpit.”
- “Kindness does not avoid conflict; kindness engages conflict, but with a goal of reconciliation.”
While the Holy Spirit has spent years refining my worldview to His Word, 2019 has been the first year in which I have been particularly interested in content focused on Christian cultural analysis and engagement. Several things have been quite helpful in this domain of thought, including Onward, the podcast This Cultural Moment, and the podcast The Briefing with Albert Mohler.
Final thoughts on the first day of August:
With the conclusion of our California trip that included Cathedral Peak, Crystal Crag, and Mt. Whitney (a couple pictures below), I will be moving into my apartment in Norman in just a couple weeks. Baseball practices will start in a few as well, and it’ll be interesting to see how hard it is to tackle time management with slightly harder courses and lots of baseball practice. After pitching 30 innings this summer, I’m excited to get to work this fall.
My dad and I bought headlamps for Mt. Whitney for our 2:00AM start. We ascended and descended a climb in 24 hours that is usually finished in three days. I joked that we are more a part of the “mountain climber community” now that we have more equipment and have summitted Mt. Whitney. But we aren’t. We’re weekend warriors for this thing, as my dad always says. Maybe some outward characteristics on the resume are there, but we aren’t in the same group as our guides or the professionals like Alex Honnold. We inwardly are not climbers before all else, as those people are. But is that how those in the church often are with Christianity? It feels as though we often display the outward signs of Christianity without a deep consistency with the inward, central focus of our faith: Jesus of Nazareth himself.
The MLB trade deadline was yesterday. The most interesting piece of news to me was the Astros’ pickup of Zack Greinke, who could be labeled Houston’s third ace in addition to Verlander and Cole. They may have lost some great prospects, but this move loads up the Astros for a World Series run that already appeared quite possible.
As I finished watching President Trump’s Ohio rally tonight, I heard him play The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and I wished I could conclude my writing as well as he concludes his rallies.