Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BioLogos Blog Post about Finding Fossils with Kids

Here's a blog post about finding fossils from the Cambrian Explosion with my four boys, and what I think about the chemical causes that could have got us there:

It's kind of like a real-life Pokémon Go, with a purpose!

More details (and more science) are in the three-part series posted earlier, starting here:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: Reviving Old Scratch by Richard Beck

Today I'm under a massive weight of fear -- not all or mostly mine, but so many of my friends are afraid, and for real reasons. Traffic stops shouldn't make you fear for your life. Going to an Orlando club shouldn't make you fear for your life. Going to an airport shouldn't make you fear for your life. Going to Wednesday night church shouldn't make you fear for your life. The best review I can give for this book is that it offers what I think may be the only real way forward through this oppressive fear. This book by a Texas psychology professor (and Abilene prison study leader) addresses fear and economics and spirit and idols and capitalism and power and, yes, the devil and demons. I don't even know how to post about this in a short form that will explain things right, but Beck, as a self-described progressive Christian from a denomination not known for its progressiveness, approaches spiritual warfare in a very real way but also a very different way from the tired Frank Peretti way. I'm just beginning to process it. This kind doesn't come out except by prayer and fasting. But, as a Christian, I think that the only way out of this tangled cultural web of fear and escalation is through the gospel, through me as a white guy policing myself and my own sin before turning to others, and through the cross and its proclamation that the powers and principalities are defeated. I don't claim to have realized what that means, but all I know is that I start from there, and I pray our country will go somewhere with it this time. We can't stay here.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Book Review: The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

The subtitle of this book is "Selected Nonfiction," but it runs to a full 500 pages, so there's a lot that made the cut. Be prepared if you read this book to read more than that 500 pages, because Gaiman is his usual generous self here, and points you to so many other works of art that you'll be making library holds and Googling public domain short stories as you go. Thanks to this book, I found "The Gardener" by Kipling and "The Door in the Wall" by H.G. Wells, two excellent short stories that show underplayed sides of each of their respective writers. When Gaiman says something's especially good, it is indeed especially good.

The Yankees' legendary closer, Mariano Rivera, would freely show other pitchers how to throw his special cutter. He would try to give it away (yet he was always the master of it himself). Gaiman is the same way here -- he's trying his best to give away the secrets to making good art, and he explains it clearly several times over. Here's to some of it sinking in.

The organization of this book is also very good. It is a little overwhelming, and I would have cut about one or two essays per section, but the most recent stuff is the deepest and is concentrated in the last section, which deals with life and death. Despite the fact that this may seem to be "just a collection," it has a definite arc and a worthwhile climax in the last 50 pages.

For all that, it's ultimately a scrapbook, like The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell but with words only and from Gaiman's own pen. It's as worthwhile as most of Gaiman's writing -- which is to say, very.