Standing in the dry heat of a desert, surrounded by dun-colored mountains, desperately wishing that I could communicate with the children we were serving was the moment I first seriously considered learning Spanish. I was on a mission trip to Mexico. Not knowing Spanish as challenging as we served alongside long-term missionaries to an indigenous people group. After the trip, I began studying but quickly gave up.
A few weeks ago, I had dinner with an old college friend who now works as an English teacher at a high-performing magnet school. Naturally, I asked him about the books he was assigning his students, wondering if I’d hear the usual high school standbys: The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies, and so forth.
People have always sought perfection. Kenneth Burke, a twentieth-century humanist, offered the following definition of man: “Man is the symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal, inventor of the negative (or moralized by the negative), separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own making, goaded by the spirit of hierarchy (or moved by the sense of order), and rotten with perfection.” Though each aspect of the definition is worth study, for the moment consider only “rotten with perfection.”
“And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”
Out of Love, Christ rescued His fallen creation from the depths of sin, death, and the dominion of the Devil. The salvific power of His Love reverberates through the cosmos. It is displayed movingly in our greatest literature and its faintest echoes are even found in our shallowest teenage love songs. When correctly understood and embraced, Love transforms and uplifts us; but when misunderstood, it contributes to our damnation.
Why do Hobbits seem always to travel in pairs? “Because two Halflings make a whole,” responded a student. This answer perfectly encapsulates the closeness between Hobbit companions. Today, intimate friendships are increasingly rare, and our individualistic society reflects this through relativism, intersectionality, and partisanship. Although commonly blamed on Luther or Descartes, radical individualism is symptomatic of a disease Aristotle described two millennia earlier. The fracturing of culture results from a loss of good friendships.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” —Ephesians 4:15 (RSV)
“Destroy this cathedral,” Jesus said to them. “Destroy it, and I will rebuild it in three days.”
“But it took epochs to build!” they protested. “It took epochs to build, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days? How?”
There are three kinds of teachers: the tough, the nice, and the charitable.
“Cinderella” is neither an allegory nor a gospel story, yet as with all of creation, it reveals aspects of the gospel story in various ways. Just as creation reveals God’s divine nature and eternal power, this tale reflects particular experiences of the universal church that manifest God’s dealings with the church. Within this beloved fairy tale, we see a picture of the endurance, favor, and rescue of the universal church.