Christians and the News Media

From Dr. Albert Mohler, 10 principles for Christian engagement with the news media:

Principle 1: In a fallen world, everyone is biased.

Principle 2: News reports are heavily filtered–and the filters matter.

Principle 3: The media are driven by commercial interests.

Principle 4: The media elite is demographically and ideologically removed from the world inhabited by most Americans.

Principle 5: Headlines often lie and language often misleads.

Principle 6: The likelihood of being uninformed and misinformed increases as the number of news sources decreases.

Principle 7: Beware the error of following the crowd.

Principle 8: Those who get their news only from broadcast media are missing much of the story, and much of its significance.

Principle 9: When it comes to issues of importance, turn off the tube and think.

Principle 10: Use the news media as material for worldview analysis.

Read more about each principle at Dr. Mohler’s blog: Part 1, Part 2

The Gospel and Humor

Tim Keller on The Gospel and Humor:

The gospel . . . creates a gentle sense of irony. Our doctrine of sin keeps us from being over-awed by anyone (especially ourselves) or shocked, shocked by any behavior. We find a lot to laugh at, starting with our own weaknesses. They don’t threaten us any more because our ultimate worth is not based on our record or performance. Our doctrine of grace and redemption also keeps us from seeing any situation as hopeless. This groundnote of joy and peace makes humor spontaneous and natural. In gospel-shaped humor we don’t only poke fun at ourselves, we also can gently poke fun at others, especially our friends. But it is always humor that takes the other seriously and ultimately builds them up as a show of affection.

* * *

We are not to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

— C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

Husbands, Wives, and Swimsuits — A Christian Dilemma

Here in Michigan, Summer means hot. And when it’s hot, we head for the pool. And when we head for the pool, we wear swimsuits. And before we wear swimsuits, we have to purchase the swimsuits. And right before we purchase the swimsuits, we have to decide which swimsuit we want.

I’ve never actually purchased a swimsuit for myself. My wife always buys them for me. Currently my swimsuit collection consists of bright orange “board shorts” — the kind of swimsuit worn by California surfer dudes. For the record, I don’t surf and I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify as a California dude. Nonetheless, even though I’ll turn 40 years old in October, I have board shorts for my personal swimming attire.

My wife, on the other hand, owns hundreds of swimsuits. Invariably, when she is selecting a suit from a store or catalog, I get asked this provocative and utterly unfair question: “Do you think this suit will look good on me?” At that point my brain explodes.

Let me switch to the third person to explain.

Husbands appreciate their wives’ attempts at presenting an “agreeable outward appearance,” but this axiom should really be reduced to the singular: a husband should (and does) appreciate his wife’s attempt at presenting an agreeable outward appearance — but only to an extent. After all, husbands don’t want their wives to look too good. At the same time, probably no man prefers that his wife appears at the pool in a burlap robe. As far as female swimwear styles go, somewhere between nudist colony and late-1700’s colonial America is appropriate, right?

"Swimwear Catalog"

One should consider two important factors: 1) the purpose of a swimsuit and 2) the influence of our 21st century American culture. The purpose of a swimsuit is to allow you to remain adequately covered while getting wet. Fine. But swimsuits “styles” in modern America — whether at local pools, beaches, or in so-called “swimwear catalogs” –­ wade far out of the area of mere functionality and dive right into the deep end of flesh exposure. Current swimsuit categories for women, as far as most men can tell, range from  “Liquid Lingerie” to “Beach Bimbo” to “I think I’m 21 and single again.” Most of the swimwear catalogs should come in a brown paper wrapper and marked “adult” or “Rated R” or better, labeling that says, “Professional model on a studio set after Photoshop re-touching. You won’t look like this at home.”

A husband might appreciate another woman’s attempt to present an agreeable appearance, but really shouldn’t, right? After all, no husband should say to anyone about another woman who’s not his wife: “My, my, isn’t her appearance, um, most agreeable in that swimsuit?” It just doesn’t work that way.

Further, no wife should be choosing external adornment where the goal is to bring any glory to herself from a man other than her husband. But while a wife might pick swimwear with a label like those mentioned above on the excuse that it’s “for her husband,” that excuse only works if there are no other husbands or men or boys around. And if it’s just one husband hanging out at the pool with his wife and several other women, the situation still hasn’t improved, has it?

Probably wives pick swimsuits that they think will be seen as agreeable by other women … not because they are trying to create any kind of unnatural attraction but namely because the husbands don’t care or don’t want to even consider caring. And how much should they care? For most husbands, it is virtually impossible to toe the line of appreciating the looks of women who are not their wives without tripping and falling flat on their faces (although purposefully assuming this position might be the best move for Christian men at any public swimming area). This is made worse to an infinite degree because in America women’s swimwear is LESS about a functional garment that provides adequate coverage while being able get wet and quickly dry and MORE about a garment whose sole purpose is to expose Eve-like quantities of flesh. There’s a reason it’s called “the lust of the flesh” … Speaking of Eve, are fig leaves in style this year?

Other questions I have:

  • How is it that the cost of a woman’s swimsuit goes up in indirect proportion to the amount of material provided?
  • Why do women need more than one swimsuit per season? I’ve been wearing my orange board shorts for years. Does anyone notice or care?

And now we will turn to some practical application for wives:

How to know if you’ve purchased the wrong swimsuit:

  1. When you model the suit for your husband and he quickly grabs a towel and tries to cover you up.
  2. When you tell him the price and he asks where the rest of it is or if it came with a wrap, a robe, a year’s supply of sunscreen, a cabana boy, etc.
  3. When he growls like a panther and starts singing songs by Air Supply.
  4. When he says, “Are you planning on wearing that out in public?”

How to know if you’ve purchased the right swimsuit: You ask your husband, “Do you think this suit looks good on me?” and he says, “Why, yes. You have an agreeable outward appearance.”

Captain America Gets the “Mark Says It’s Okay For Him and His Boys To See It” Rating

This past weekend I took my boys, ages 13 and 12, to see Captain America, which, unbeknownst to them, is the role I play every day at home as I attempt, with my wife, to raise them and their two sisters, age 9 and 4. Being Captain America and fighting the Nazis during World War II (the time in which the movie takes place) might be easier than parenting in 2011, actually.

For us, “going to the movies” usually means watching them via DVD in the comfort of our own home where we have ability to hit “pause” and visit a clean restroom that doesn’t include stall walls covered in modern phraseology that can’t be repeated in a family-friendly blog like this.

Anyway, when we heard that the Captain America movie was coming out, we thought: “Hey, let’s have some real fun and pay an atrocious amount of money to see the movie in the theater  where we can sit in filthy chairs used by a thousand other teenagers, eat greasy popcorn and drink Coke that must have been prepared by a gourmet chef with golden cookware (or so I gathered from what they charge), and, in fact, watch the movie with a 187 other people we don’t even know.” Well, that’s what I thought anyway. The boys thought: “Cool!”

Captain America actually held a bit of appeal for me as I enjoy American history and especially war history and weaponry. Moreover, in the movie Captain America carries what was, during World War II, the U.S. Army’s standard issue sidearm: the M1911, a .45 ACP semi-automatic Colt pistol that to this day is regarded as one of the premier fighting pistols of all time. I was hooked.

We arrived at the movie theater, bought our tickets ($27.50 for the three of us), bought one large Coke and one large popcorn ($13.00, which when I read the price I almost passed out until I found out it included unlimited refills), and hustled into Theater 18 at the Star Theater and found seats. I immediately ordered the boys to eat all the popcorn and drink all the Coke so that we could obtain our first refill before the movie even started. Every refill consumed, of course, brought the price down: $13 … $6.50 … $3.25 … now I’ve stopped hyperventilating and can enjoy the movie a bit more.

Prior to showing Captain America (PG-13), the theater of course had to show about 27 movie previews, each with a disgusting mix of violence or profanity or worse, Smurfs.

Finally, it was time for Captain America: The First Avenger.

Overall, the movie was very enjoyable: lots of action, adventure, and the classic storyline of weakling turned superhero. Bad guys were bad, good prevailed in the end, and viewers should be quick to notice many allusions to other adventure-style movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark (motorcycle chases) and Star Wars (Nazis as a form of stormtroopers, or is it vice versa?). The ending, which I won’t give away, does set up nicely for the next Marvel comic movie.

I won’t bore you with a detailed analysis of the story. I will, however, note a couple of the high points:

  • I feared that Captain America’s use of a shield would be plain silly. It wasn’t. In fact, to use Captain America’s own words, the shield was “more handy than you’d think.” The directors did a great job of making it a very manly, superhero-esque, and versatile piece of equipment.
  • The bad guys had vastly superior weaponry that they were unable to use to their advantage. In the end, the good guys won and it was sheer guts and fighting for a cause greater than self that made the difference.
  • In one scene, Captain America is about to enter a dangerous situation with his M1911 pistol  — without the hammer back. With a M1911, this simply means the gun is not ready to shoot and will require an extra step (manually cocking the hammer, or, if there’s no round in the chamber, racking the slide) to be made ready. This was a colossal error on the part of the movie’s weapons experts and continuity staff, so much so that I actually stood up and booed at this point. As the ushers escorted me from the theater, I was able to see that, miraculously, Captain America’s M1911 still fired. Phew!

Captain America also offered a little bit of romance, all appropriate, and delivered a handful of very clever and funny one-liners. All in all, my boys and I had a great time and we think you will enjoy the movie, too.* We can’t wait for the sequel (WARNING: SEQUEL SPOILER ALERT) where Captain America takes on the Smurfs, squashing them, one by one, with his shield.

* I actually do think you’ll enjoy the movie. However, please note that whether you see it or not is up to you and you cannot hold me personally responsible for any offense you might take. It’s not my responsibility to preview and approve movies for you. What am I — your parent? Anyway, if you want to see it, go see it. If you don’t, don’t. If you don’t know what to do and simply can’t make a decision, that too, is your problem. My recommendation of the movie should not be construed as a professional movie-goer’s opinion. For crying out loud, the last time I was in a movie theater I saw Gods and Generals.

Bad and Good Ways to Read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

Bad and Good Ways to Read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.

HT: Justin Taylor

Self Defense and Ownership of Guns: A Christian Perspective

Dr. Wayne Grudem addresses the topic in a helpful lecture.

Thoughts on Christian Patriotism – Reformation21 Blog

July 4 reminds us to play our part today in the civil life of our nation. When God addressed the Jewish exiles living in Babylon, he told them to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf” (Jer. 29:7). Christians rightly think of any earthly home as a sort of exile, longing to arrive in the kingdom of glory with God. But we should be involved in the society and life of the land in which we are living. This means that we should be civic-minded as a church and as believers, exercising all kinds of gifts and opportunities to be a blessing to the nation and city in which we are living. In America, this calling involves participation in the political process, opposing evil, and promoting truth and righteousness. Especially when there are political leaders who openly seek a biblical agenda of godliness and civil well-being, they deserve the special support and prayers of God’s people.

Thoughts on Christian Patriotism – Reformation21 Blog.

The Minister Who Paid People to Attend His Church

Apparently William Guthrie (Scottish puritan born in 1620) did this …

Being the first pastor there [the parish at Fenwick], Guthrie found a great spiritual ignorance in the parish as well as a general neglect of the house of God and the way of salvation. This was particularly manifest in the way that the Sabbath was profaned and family worship neglected. The young minister’s zeal and desire for the salvation of his flock overcame all discouragement in his way and his preaching was sealed with the genuine conversion of many souls.

Guthrie was creative in his efforts to get his reluctant parishioners under the sound of the gospel. On one occasion he went into a house in which he knew the occupants did not go to church. In the course of conversation with them he asked the family what they thought of their minister. When he was told that they knew nothing much about him because they never went to church, he invited them to come, promising them money and arranging to meet them there. When they arrived they were greatly surprised to find that the minister himself was the visitor who had invited them.

One man in his parish was a keen hunter and preferred his sport to the public worship on the Lord’s day. Guthrie asked him what was his reason for not coming to church? He told him that the Sabbath-day was the most fortunate day in all the week. Guthrie asked him what he could earn by that day’s hunting? He replied that he could make half-a-crown. Guthrie told him if he would go to church on Sabbath, he would give him as much; and by that means got his promise that he would come. After the sermon was over, Guthrie told him that if would come back the next Sabbath-day he would give him the same amount. He did this, and from that time never failed to attend the church. He afterwards became a member of his session.

Read more about William Guthrie.

On Being a Minister and a Sportsman

An intriguing account of William Guthrie, minister and sportsman, by Alexander White:

Like our own Thomas Guthrie, too, William Guthrie was a great angler. He could gaff out a salmon in as few minutes as the deftest-handed gamekeeper in all the country, and he could stalk down a deer in as few hours as my lord himself who did nothing else. When he was composing his Saving Interest, he somehow heard of a poor countryman near Haddington who had come through some extraordinary experiences in his spiritual life, and he set out from Fenwick all the way to Haddington to see and converse with the much-experienced man. All that night and all the next day Guthrie could not tear himself away from the conversation of the man and his wife. But at last, looking up and down the country, his angling eye caught sight of a trout-stream, and, as if he had in a moment forgotten all about his book at home and all that this saintly man had contributed to it, Guthrie asked him if he had a fishing-rod, and if he would give him a loan of it. The old man felt that his poor rough tackle was to be absolutely glorified by such a minister as Guthrie condescending to touch it, but his good wife did not like this come-down at the end of such a visit as his has been, and she said so. She was a clever old woman, and I am not sure but she had the best of it in the debate that followed about ministers fishing, and about their facetious conversation.

Read all about Guthrie — minister, sportsman, humorist, and writer — here.

“Mortified Eyes” by Thomas Manton (An Essay Written in 1660 that Applies Today)

The following essay was written by Thomas Manton in 1660 who, as far as I can tell, did not have TV, cable, dish, Internet, Facebook, or a smartphone. Yet he speaks prophetically to our generation.

“Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity — quicken me in Your way” (Psalm 119:37).

The first request is for the removing of impediments to obedience; the other request is for addition of new degrees of grace. These two are fitly joined, for they have a natural influence upon one another. Unless we turn away our eyes from vanity — we shall soon contract a deadness of heart. When our affections are alive to worldly things — they are dead to God. Therefore the less we let loose our hearts to these things — the more lively and cheerful the work of obedience. On the other side, the more the vigor of grace is renewed, and the habits of it quickened into actual exercise — the more is sin mortified and subdued.

1. It therefore concerns those that would walk with God to have their eyes turned away from worldly things.

He who would be quickened, carried out with life and vigor in the ways of God, must first be mortified, die unto sin. Speaking of the fruits of Christ’s death, the Apostle mentioned death unto sin — before life unto righteousness (1 Peter 2:25). If any would live with Christ — first they must learn to die unto sin. It is impossible for sin and grace to thrive in the same subject.

2. One great means of mortification is guarding the senses — eyes and ears, taste and touch — that they may not betray the heart into sin.

I put it so general, because the man of God who is so solicitous about his eyes would not be careless of his ears and other senses. We must watch on all sides. When an assault is made on a city — if one gate is open — it is as good as if all were. The inlet and outlet of sin is by the senses, and much of our danger lies there. There are many objects that agree with our dispositions, and by them insinuate themselves into the soul, and therefore things long since seemingly dead will soon revive again and recover life and strength. There are no means to keep the heart — unless we keep the eye. In every creature Satan has laid a snare for us — to steal away our hearts and affections from God. The senses are so ready to receive these objects from without to wound the heart, for they are as the heart is. If the heart is poisoned with sin, and became a servant to it — so are the senses of our bodies “weapons of unrighteousness” (Romans 6:13). Earthly objects have an impression upon them answerable to the temper and affections of the soul — and what the soul desires — the senses pitch upon; and therefore if we let the senses wander, the heart will take fire.

3. Above all senses, the eye must be guarded.

First, because it is the noblest sense, given us for high uses. There is not only a natural eye to inform us of things profitable and hurtful for the natural man — but a spiritual use to set before us those objects which may stir us and raise our minds to heavenly meditations. By beholding the perfection of the creature — we may admire the more eminent perfection of Him that made them: “the heavens declare the glory of God — and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). The perfections of the creature are to draw us to God — and its defects to drive us from themselves. The eye, as it is used, will either be a help or a snare: either it will let in the sparks of temptation — or enkindle the fire of true devotion. These are the windows which God has placed in the top of the building, that man from there may contemplate God’s works and take a prospect of Heaven.

Second, because the eyes have a great influence upon the heart either to good or evil — but chiefly to evil. In this corrupt state of man, by looking — we come to liking, and are brought inordinately to love what we behold. “Seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you used to go a whoring” (Num. 15:39). “If my step has turned out of the way, and my heart walk after my eyes” (Job 31:7). These are the spies of the heart — agents to bring it and the temptation together; the eye sees, and then by gazing—the heart lusts, and the body acts the transgression. It is more dangerous to see evil — than to hear it.

HT: | Mortified Eyes

What to say to those who have lost someone in war…

Here’s one worthy statement:

I think the sacrifices that are made by fighting men and women are among the greatest you can make in your life. This is an extraordinarily meaningful way to spend your life, whether you survive or not. Some of the most beautifully liberating things in our history have been done by fighting men and women. I hope there is some condolence for those who have lost someone that their loved one was lost in the service of something so grand as what the military stands for.

— Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken

HT: Cal Thomas: “Louis Zamperini and Memorial Day”

7 Things I’ve Learned in Media & Communications | The Mars Hill Blog

7 Things I’ve Learned in Media & Communications | The Mars Hill Blog.

How to Spot a True Calvinist

According to James Montgomery Boice in Chapter 8 of The Doctrines of Grace, he has these characteristics:

  • A God-Centered Mind
  • A Penitent Spirit
  • A Grateful Heart
  • A Submissive Will
  • A Holy Life
  • A Glorious Purpose

Is that what you think of when you hear of someone being a Calvinist?

A Model Husband, Soldier, and Letter

Major Sullivan Ballou, just prior to the Battle of Bull Run, July, 1861:

Dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps tomorrow. And lest I should not be able to write you again I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am no more. . . .

. . . Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly with all those chains to the battlefield. The memory of all the blissful moments I have enjoyed with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes and future years when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.

If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. . . .

Forgive my faults, and the pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have been! . . . But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be with you, in the brightest day and in the darkest night . . . always, always. And when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath, or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

HT: Andree Seu at WORLD Magazine

Good Reading and Good Thinking as a Prequisite to Good Writing

Good Reading and Good Thinking as a Prequisite to Good Writing.

HT: Justin Taylor

Not Cockroaches but “Palmetto Bugs” — A Lesson in Marketing

My family and I recently returned from a vacation in Hilton Head Island — you know, the South Carolina destination known for its sunny weather, miles of beautiful beaches, upscale resort communities, world-class golf venues, and, don’t forget, hordes of two-inch long cockroaches that only come out at night to suck your blood while you sleep. Wait, that’s a bit of a mis-characterization. These creatures are actually known as Palmetto bugs, named for the shade-creating Palmetto trees that grace the beautiful HH island. Sounds nice, right? Well, if you do a little research, you’ll find that these so-called “Palmetto bugs” are also known as “American cockroaches.” And that, friends, is called American marketing: putting a positive spin on something that is positively disgusting.

To prove the point that “Palmetto bug” is a total whitewash of what is, in essence, a filthy cockroach, just Google “Palmetto bugs”. You’ll see results like these:

The first hit — first hit — provides this provocative info:

American cockroach – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), also known as the waterbug, particularly in the southern United States, is the largest species of common …

Wikipedia, being the resource that it is, proves that the peaceful sounding Palmetto bug is nothing more than a large and vile cockroach, full of sin and degradation.

Of interest, the site also notes cockroach’s speed:

In an experiment carried out at the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, a Periplaneta americana registered a record speed of 5.4 kilometres per hour (3.4 mph), about 50 body lengths per second, which would be comparable to a human running at 330 kilometres per hour (210 mph).

There’s only one thing worse than freaky bugs and that’s fast, freaky bugs.

The second hit confirms the info in the first hit (Palmetto = cockroach) and makes it clear just how desirable these creatures are (“get rid of…”, “pests”):

How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs |

How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs. Palmetto bugs, also known as American cockroaches, are frequent house pests in the southern United States. › Home Safety & Household Tips – Cached – Similar

You know something’s wrong when getting rid of Palmetto bugs shows up in the “home safety” category.

And here’s my favorite:

Cockroaches – How To Kill and Get Of Cockroaches

The most distinguishing characteristic of the true palmetto bug is it’s foul smell it … Control of palmetto bugs…

Now we’re dealing with true Palmetto bugs, their foul smell, and how out-of-control they can get. Nice.

Anyway, we had four encounters with Palmetto bugs (PB’s) in the space of seven days. Even though that’s an incident rate of less than one-bug-per-day, it’s still too high for a gated resort community where you can order peel and eat shrimp right on the beach. The details of the incidents, provided below, are beyond frightening:

Incident 1: At approximately 11 PM of the third night of our stay in Hilton Head, I got out of bed to go use the restroom. Clicking on the light, I noted a creature on the ceiling that looked like a small bird with two cell phone antenna coming out of its head and legs that looked like mini machetes. It was almost directly overhead and clearly on a reconnaissance mission, observing our location and habits and reporting back to PB headquarters, which, for all I know, might be in Pakistan. Questions ran through my mind: What if the creature had fallen or intentionally dropped into our bed? Would the ensuing panic, the screaming and thrashing about wake my wife? How would I dispatch the intruder to that Great Palmetto in the Sky without waking the children or losing my security deposit to drywall repairs? I grabbed a shirt, wadded it up into a ball, chucked it at the PB, knocking it to the floor. Unfortunately I didn’t find it after that…

Incident 2: The next evening, right at bedtime, one of my two sons spotted a PB under the couch. We went into full ballistic mode, raising the Rental Condo Alert Status to orange, and set up a perimeter. Armed with flip-flops and small pillows, the boys and I dodged and parried, lunged and leaped around that couch, drove the PB out of hiding, and dealt it a stunning blow similar to the effect of a flash-bang grenade. Our trained eyes confirmed that the PB’s rate of speed during its attempted escape probably exceeded four miles per hour — fast, but not fast enough. We ceremoniously scooped him up with a paper plate and let him enjoy a “water park” style ride known as The Flusher. As I entered the restroom to start him off on the ride, I was disturbed to see yet another PB in the sink. This one wasn’t as fast, having been up all day and probably snacking on our potato chips, and even seemed a little hung over. After flushing his friend, I tried to capture the one in the sink but he surprised me with a bold move — darting down the sink drain, under the stopper. Gone? I turned on the water for minute and then closed the stopper. Maybe the cleaning personnel would get to deal with him later.

The next day we received a text from a friend back home who also happened to be a former resident of Hilton Head Island. Note the word “former.” Here’s the actual text:

Oh by the way … forgot to warn u about very likely visitors called “Palmetto Bugs”, look like cockroaches but they r not :D

A quick analysis of this text: Note the nonchalant and friendly tone, using the words “visitors” and “Palmetto Bugs” and then outright denying the fact that these creatures are indeed blood-sucking cockroaches who operate a complex communication and infestation network. And then there’s the smiley face at the end of the text. Ironically, our friend used to be in marketing; as such, we were not amused by these antics. To thank our friend, we brought home a jar full of these so-called “visitors” and released them in our friend’s home. After all, they’re not cockroaches, right?

Incident 3: One afternoon my family I were relaxing in living room before going out to dinner. My wife went out on the screened-in porch to hang some towels out to dry. As she opened the double doors to the porch, I heard an evil snicker and saw a PB sprint along the doorway at a speed of six miles per hour. I calmly informed my wife of the situation to which she responded by launching herself into the air. Like any loving husband would, I helped her dig her fingers and toes out of the ceiling and come back down. This incident raised more questions: Was this the same PB we saw in Incident 1? Do PB’s work in shifts? If so, which shift gets premium pay? (Probably the day shift.)

Incident 4: During our final night in the rental condo, after everyone was in bed — the boys were sleeping on the sleeper sofa in the living room which opens to the dining area/kitchen — one of the boys called out to me, asking to turn up the air conditioning. I walked out to the main room, flipped on a light, and adjusted the thermostat. Then, one of the boys noticed it: a PB on the kitchen wall. Once again we raised the threat level and grabbed our weapons, this time a folded paper plate and a People magazine (the Royal Wedding issue). My son and I went to work, tracking, attacking. One good slap sent the PB to the floor where we watched in amazement as it accelerated to eight miles per hour and scurried under the dishwasher.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to step on a PB, even with shoes on. PB’s are just too big and likely would crack and splatter everywhere. (As as aside, Dave Barry would probably say that Palmetto Bug Stompers would be a great name for a band. Ironically, there is such a band in New Orleans!) Of all the weapons we employed in our fight against PB’s, however, the lowly flip flop sandal proved most effective to deliver a stunning blow without causing a mess.

Despite these incidents, we do highly recommend Hilton Head as a vacation destination and would like to go back sometime. The sun, the beach, the pool, the cool breezes, the peel and eat shrimp, the resort communities — all of it is good and worthwhile, even if you’re sharing space with and being closely watched by filthy American cockroaches. I mean Palmetto bugs.

J.C. Ryle’s Evaluation of Thomas Manton as a Writer–and Why it Matters

From the Puritan library at, Ryle’s evaluation of Manton and why this should matter to you:

I do not regard him as a writer of striking power and brilliancy, compared to some of his cotemporaries. He never carries you by storm, and excites enthusiasm by passages of profound thought expressed in majestic language, such as you will find frequently in Charnock, and occasionally in Howe. He never rouses your inmost feelings, thrills your conscience, or stirs your heart of hearts, like Baxter. Such rhetoric as this was not Manton’s gift, and the reader who expects to find it in his writings will be disappointed.

As a writer, I consider that Manton holds a somewhat peculiar place among the Puritan divines. He has pre-eminently a style of his own, and a style very unlike that of most of his school. I will try to explain what I mean.

Manton’s chief excellence as a writer, in my judgment, consists in the ease, perspicuousness, and clearness of his style. He sees his subject clearly, expresses himself clearly, and seldom fails in making you see clearly what he means. He has a happy faculty of simplifying the point he handles. He never worries you with acres of long, ponderous, involved sentences, like Goodwin or Owen. His books, if not striking, are generally easy and pleasant reading, and destitute of anything harsh, cramped, obscure, and requiring a second glance to be understood. For my own part, I find it easier to read fifty pages of Manton’s than ten of some of his brethren’s; and after reading, I feel that I carry more away.

Manton was a Calvinist in his theology. He held the very doctrine which is so admirably set forth in the seventeenth Article of the Church of England. He held the same views which were held by nine-tenths of the English Reformers, and four-fifths of all the leading divines of the Church of England down to the accession of James I. He maintained and taught personal election, the perseverance of the saints, the absolute necessity of a regeneration evidenced by its fruits, as well as salvation by free grace, justification by faith alone, and the uselessness of ceremonial observances without true and vital religion. As an expositor of Scripture, I regard Manton with unmingled admiration. Here, at any rate, he is ‘facile princeps’ among the divines of the Puritan school.

— J.C. Ryle

Manton’s virtue, as a writer? Clarity. Many writers have been (and are) gifted in many ways and their variety of expression is indeed a spice of life. Clarity, however, matches or outranks everything else.


Productive (and Sometimes Hilarious) Procrastination: 10 Websites for Writers – Writer’s Digest blog

Writer’s Digest blog – Promptly – Productive (and Sometimes Hilarious) Procrastination: 10 Websites for Writers.

In Any Conversation…

5. Endeavor, therefore, on such occasions, so far as you can do it with decency and convenience, give the conversation a religious turn. And when serious and useful subjects are started in your presence, lay hold of them, and cultivate them; and for that purpose “let the word of Christ dwell richly in you,” (Col. 3:1) and be continually made “the man of your counsel.” (Psa. 119:24)

— Philip Doddridge, The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul