Friday, January 30

The Man Born to Be King

Reading Dorothy Sayers' classic play cycle. Shows what I mentioned the other day: the full-flowering of Oxford Christian Modernism. Oh, there are faults to be found. Those of us armed with the postmodern critique can easily bring it to bear. The amount of damage done depends on your opinion of pomo (mine: important and to be counted, but not ultimately materially damaging).

Again, Sayers is in good company with Lewis and Tolkien. Many great things at work here. She seems truly master (she would say, though we might say 'mistress') of the Gospels and their relation to each other and I like almost all of her hermeneutical choices.

The clincher for me to buy and read 'The Man Born to Be King' was that CS Lewis read it every Easter.

One part that really stands out: the best, most plausible filling-out of Judas that I've ever read. Now, she makes him a real intellectual and that pride is his downfall. Characteristic of Oxonians and probably me, too, but still very valid. She decides Judas is important, but speculates much more orthodoxly than Kazantzakis' damned (I use that word advisedly) portrayal.

Paul and Mary, the Chronological Bible readers, will especially be interested in the harmonization of the four Gospels. Again, I like her choices very much. And she has a lot of nice commentary on them, particularly in the introduction.

The biggest failing of these plays is the excessive contextualization she put into them. The local color does not read near as well outside of 1940s England. Casts new light for me on all of the recent contextualization projects in Evangelicalism including Eugene Peterson's work. I've no doubt the plays were 'smashing' for contemporary listeners, and I can get rather into that, from a distance, but ultimately they sound strange today. A strength and a weakness.

Anyhow, if these issues resonate with you at all, you should definitely get a hold of it. (Not in print, so you'll have to buy it used, like I did (Amazon has a number of links) or get it from a library (ours did not have it)).

Monday, January 26

American football secret

Ok, as I start this post I've got 9 windows open with 30 total tabs. Terrible habit.

+ There's an apocryphal version of Kurt and Brenda Warner's inspiring story going around via email again. Here's the real version (with sources).

+ Nice SI article: Cold Hard Football Facts: Why Warner is better QB than Manning

+ Interesting playoff criticism: Cold Hard Football Facts: Playoff system ruined by 2002 realignment

+ Via tdaxp:

+ There is a ton that could be said about this article. In fact, the author has since expanded it into a whole book: What it takes to be great:
Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work.

What I have thought about most frequently since I read this article is video games. To beat the level, you have to get better, period. Instant feedback, hard work, and a tangible reward. Pretty effective training system. Can we port it over to more important pursuits?

There, that's better 5 windows with 19 tabs.

Interested in Tom's new book?

Tom's new book comes out February 5th and we're trying our darndest to make it a best-seller. Apparently, you have to achieve that distinction relatively shortly after the book comes out, like within 9 days or something. So we're really encouraging people to pre-order.

Here's the product description:

The author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller The Pentagon’s New Map brings us a remarkable analysis of the post-Bush world, and America’s leadership role in it.

In civilian and military circles alike, The Pentagon’s New Map became one of the most talked about books of 2004. “A combination of Tom Friedman on globalization and Carl von Clausewitz on war, [it is] the red-hot book among the nation’s admirals and generals,” wrote David Ignatius in The Washington Post. Barnett’s second book, Blueprint for Action, demonstrated how to put the first book’s principles to work. Now, in Great Powers, Barnett delivers his most sweeping— and important—book of all.

For eight years, the current administration has done much to disconnect or alienate America from the world, but the world has certainly not been standing still. Now, with a chance to start over, what do we do? Where’s the world going now, and how do we not only rejoin it but become a leader again in what has become the most profound reordering of the globe since the end of World War II?

In Great Powers, Barnett offers a tour de force analysis of the grand realignments that are both already here and coming up fast in the spheres of economics, diplomacy, defense, technology, security, the environment, and much more. The “great powers” are no longer just the world’s major nation-states but the powerful forces, past, present, and future, moving with us and past us like a freight train. It is not a simple matter of a course correction but of a complete recalibration, and the opportunities it presents are far greater than the perils. Barnett gives us a fundamental understanding of both, showing us not only how the world is now but how it will be.

There are those writing now who say America is in decline . . . and we just have to deal with it. Barnett says no. Globalization as it exists today was built by America—and now it’s time for America to shape and redefine what comes next. Great Powers shows us how. Bibliography. Notes. Index.

About the Author
Thomas P. M. Barnett regularly advises the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Special Operations Command, and Central Command, and routinely offers briefings to senior members of the four military services, the intelligence community, and Congress. Dr. Barnett is now the senior managing director of Enterra Solutions and formerly served as senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College and as assistant for Strategic Futures in OSD’s Office of Force Transformation. He is a contributing editor for Esquire, and writes a weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service. Barnett holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

So, do you think you're going to be interested in reading it? If so, would you be willing to pre-order with your favorite retailer? Thanks!

Ken, Mike, Ben, Peter, Dorothy, Ronald, Jack and Winston

Again, I've been very absent from the weblog. Hope you don't mind too much and that you're following my little goings on over on Facebook.

+ GSR calls the Cards the Fake Steelers, and that's not far off. In fact, you can make a good argument that Whisenhunt is more of a Steeler than Tomlin.

I think the Real Steelers will win: their defense is amazing and Ben usually finds a way to win. But, since the Steelers and Ben both won recently (though Tomlin didn't), I think I'll root for the Cards. Warner to Fitzgerald is incredible.

+ The thing that stands out to me about the Steelers is Ben can't keep up like this very long. Sure he's a winner, but he's taking too many hits: three concussions in three years.

+ The main reason I haven't been posting much: I have been mainlining Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. Finished the last novel last week (haven't started the short stories yet).

I'm not a huge mystery fan. I think I like Sayers' playful language most of all.

Reading her stuff makes me think that period (between the world wars) was the fullest flowering of Oxford-Cambridge culture. Before pop culture took over those people had such incredible facility in the authoritative texts of their culture. The stuff they could quote, in multiple languages, is so impressive. Of course, that time period also gives us Tolkien, Lewis, Churchill and many others I'm sure we could name.

Rejoinder: that fullest flowering must certainly also have been to blame for some of England's part in those two wars, especially the nearly disastrous lack of preparation for Hitler's rise after the punishment meted out on Germany at Versailles.

Saturday, January 10

Ok, I've been really out of it...

A week in Iowa for vacation over Xmas, New Year's and my birthday and then 4 days without DSL after we got home that just about put me over the edge!

Not much now, either, but a few things for you.

+ Happy for Iowa's big win over the Gamecocks, obviously. Watched it in my Iowa shirt 10 miles west of campus back home.

+ Sad for the Vikes' ouster from the playoffs. No surprise, and they really didn't deserve to go any further. They've got a solid team if they can improve in the passing game next year. Tarvaris showed some good signs. Him or someone else.

+ Pulling for Carolina and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. No idea who will make it. Last year I was horribly, crushingly wrong.

+ A couple of nice Jaq posts: The Lark Ascending and Fixing the Prequels: Attack of the Clones (part two).

+ I often think of stealing 'Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo!' from Jaq's page. What do you think?

+ How on earth did I miss the new Killers Xmas song?!

Check the lyrics!

Well your eyes just haven’t been the same, Joseph
Are you bad at dealing with the fame, Joseph
There’s a pale moonshine above you
Do you see both sides, do they shove you around

Is the touchstone forcing you to hide, Joseph
Are the rumours eating you alive, Joseph

When the holy night is upon you
Will you do what’s right, the position is yours

From the temple walls to the New York night
Our decisions rest on a child
When she took her stand did she hold your hand
Will your faith stand still or run away
Run away

When they've driven you so far
That you think you're gonna drop
Do you wish you were back there at the carpenter shop

With the plane and the lathe
The work never drove you mad
You're a maker, a creator
Not just somebody's dad

From the temple walls to the New York night
Our decisions rest on a man
When I take the stand
When I take the stand
Will he hold my hand
Will my faith stand still or run away

And the desert
It's a hell of a place to find heaven
Forty years lost in the wilderness looking for God
And you climb to the top of the mountain
Looking down on the city where you were born

On the years since you left
Gave you time to sit back and reflect

Better you than me
Better you than me
Better you than me

Well the holy night is upon you
Do you see both sides, do they shove you around

Better you than me
Better you than me
Than me
Better you than me
Better you
Better you
Better you
Than me

Well your eyes just haven’t been the same, Joseph

Who wrote it? I could be wrong, but it sounds like there's a little faith in there. Maybe I'm projecting ;-)

+ So bad it's good:
Europe - The Final Countdown

I'm outta' here...