Is It Hard To Be a Christian?

Some Christians say yes, and criticize those who would make it easy.  But let me hazard a more laid-back answer.  And let me note at the outset that Our Savior said, “For my yoke is easy, and My load is light.”  Matthew 11:30. It’s not so bad being a Christian, considering the alternative, which is … [Read more…]

It Just Takes One

Here’s an obvious but important asymmetry that occurred to me when I was reading Mary C. Neal’s 7 Lessons from Heaven about her near-death experience.  In the book, she discusses not only her own visit to Heaven, where she met Jesus, and the effect it had on her life, but also the similar experiences of many other people. … [Read more…]

Faith and Works

Sure, maybe it’s presumptuous for me to opine on such a profound issue, but let me start by noting that it would be a mistake to agonize over reaching the right answer, since (a) if there were clearly a definitive answer then someone smarter than I would have reached it, and (b) it doesn’t matter … [Read more…]

Random Additional Thoughts on Pascal’s Wager

There can be both selfish and unselfish reasons for wanting to be good and wanting to be godly.  They are not inconsistent and may not even be that distinct. *** Faith and love can both be cultivated.  Whether we’re considering when they’re beginning or when they’re already extant, it’s romantic but foolish to think otherwise. … [Read more…]

Mary Beard & John Henderson, “Classics: A Very Short Introduction”

The book is short (121 pages), and rather quirky.  Taking the temple at Bassae (in the rural mountains of the Peloponnese) as the touchstone, the authors riff on the different ways the classics have influenced and are influencing us.  It’s an enjoyable read, but nothing much here that’s directly bearing on Christianity.

Michael Cook, “The Koran: A Very Short Introduction”

This was a very informative book, and the point I found most interesting was that the Muslims accept the proposition that one verse of the Koran can abrogate another part of it (the author likens it to a constitutional amendment). The book is objective.  It points out some problems with old texts and so forth, … [Read more…]

“Gilgamesh”

Some interesting echoes of Genesis:  a worldwide flood, with one family and animals surviving in a big boat, and a raven sent out twice to find land; a snake who keeps man from having perpetual youth; and a woman who causes the loss of innocence in a noble savage.  But there are many gods, of … [Read more…]

Robert N. Schwartz, “The Roman Empire: A Concise History of the First Two Centuries”

I picked this book just for the history, and it turns out the author is quite Christian-sympathetic and -oriented.  Here are some notes: Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14) pushed for returned devotion to the traditional gods, restored old temples, was named “Pontius Maximus” (high priest), and so forth. Caligula (A.D. 37-41) had many anti-Jewish, … [Read more…]