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They gathered every Thursday around nine in the evening with pipes andteacups in hand. At any given meeting there was likely to have been atleast one historian, a philosopher, a physician, several poets, and anumber of professors. The Inklings, as they called themselves, wereliterary enthusiasts who praised the value of good narrative and gatheredto encourage, challenge, and better one another in their various attemptsat creating it. Out of these spirited meetings, in which it is said that"praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work, or evennot-so-good work, was often brutally frank," there arose the final draftsof The Lord of the Rings, Out of the Silent Planet, AllHallows' Eve, and The Great Divorce.(1) Contrary to many critics who insist these men had little influence on oneanother (the Inklings' themselves said of Tolkien that it was easier toinfluence a "bandersnatch" than the creator of Middle Earth), Diana PavlacGyler avers they would not have been the same writers had they not writtenwithin the community of the Inklings. "[E]ach author's work is embeddedin the work of others," writes Gyler, "and each author's life isintertwined with the lives of others."(2) Influence, after all, is farfrom imitation. While it is true that these authors came to theirmeetings with determined ideas, their reflective and challenginginteractions sharpened thoughts, minds, and lives. J.R.R. Tolkien andCharles Williams, as well as C.S. Lewis, would likely have imagined fardifferent worlds had they not participated in the regular reading andcriticism of works in progress. This idea of communal creativity is one with which I resonant from my ownexperience of thinking and writing, from looking around the rooms offaith, culture, and history and learning to articulate all that is seen. Even my most original thoughts or imaginative creations are indeliblyshaped by a lifetime of encounters with artists, theologians, family, andcommunity. We do not interpret the world alone, nor do we live withoutinfluencing one another profoundly. In this sense, we might say thatcreativity in all its forms--even in the simplest acts of living andacting--is inherently an interactive process. What J.R.R. Tolkien noteson the lips of Frodo can indeed be said of our own interacting stories. Peering at the large red book in which Bilbo began to tell the story andFrodo then continued, Sam looks down in wonder. "Why, you have nearlyfinished it, Mr. Frodo!" he exclaims. "I have quite finished, Sam,"answers Frodo. "The last pages are for you."(3) When the New Testament writers began to speak of creation through thelight of all they saw in Jesus Christ, they affirmed the Old Testamentunderstanding of total dependence upon the maker of heaven earth, but theyspoke also of Christ's presence as the Word at the beginning. Likewise,the early church began to see the role and presence of the Spirit in God'screative work. Creation, they came to understand, and all we see withinit, is the work of a Trinitarian God. Each person of the Trinity inrelationship with one another brings forth out of nothing a creationreflective of the goodness and love of a divine community. In this imageof God and the fullness of life in the Trinity, creation is affirmed notas emerging from any lack in God, but from God's communalabundance. All of creation declares the glory of God, the work ofthe loving interaction between Father, Son, and Spirit. I believe this ultimate image of creative collaboration is one thatorients us as creatures and co-creators alike. The outpouring ofTrinitarian abundance into the creation of all things is one that bids usto ask: How is it that we are joining God in creation as a community? What kind of kingdom are we illumining by our life together and influenceupon the world? What kind of stories are we telling and retelling, andhow are we inviting those around us to join in the great Story we havebeen given? The creative collaboration of the Trinity throughout time andcreation reminds us that God has made us for community and relationship,that our stories intertwine as if a great tapestry, and that the grace ofa good creator is working to make that tapestry inherently beautiful.As the Father has invited us to participate in his good work of creation,so Christ has called us to join him in furthering the community of thekingdom among us. By the Spirit, might our very presence in this creativecommunity be as a great light to the world. Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi ZachariasInternational Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.(1) W.H. Lewis, "C.S. Lewis: A Biography" (Unpublished Manuscript,268-269); Wade Collection, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.(2) Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien as Writers in Community (Kent, OH: Kent State UniversityPress, 2007).(3) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 1027.------------------------------------------------------------------- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words ofchallenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others whowould enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,tell them they can sign up on our website athttp://www.rzim.org/slice/slice.php. If they do not have access to theWorld Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).
Summer ReadingGet Revived with a Good BookMay 22, 2008Many of us are starting to think about what we should pick up for our summer reading. Newspapers, magazines, and schools are all putting out recommended reading lists—and so is BreakPoint. With help from commenters at our blog, The Point, we have updated our summer reading list, which you can find at www.breakpoint.org. Our blogging team at The Point will also be offering more book recommendations and related activities throughout the summer, so keep checking back in with us.In the age of the Internet, television, film, and all the other types of media that cause divisiveness and parental anxiety, the benefits of reading are one thing we all seem to agree on. Yet reading, as important and necessary as it is, can carry dangers of its own if we are not discerning about what we read.Dr. Benjamin Wiker demonstrates this in his new book 10 Books That Screwed Up the World. Dr. Wiker explains, "Common sense and a little logic tell us that if ideas have consequences, then it follows that bad ideas have bad consequences. And even more obvious, if bad ideas are written down in books, they are far more durable, infecting generation after generation. . . ." Dr. Wiker mentions books like Margaret Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization and Mein Kampf that carried literary "viruses" to readers around the world.But today, we have a whole new crop of books full of damaging, devastating spiritual ideas—books like The Secret and A New Earth. These make false but very seductive claims, tempting human beings to re-create God in their own image, or even to set themselves up as God.Dr. Wiker proposes that we inoculate ourselves against literary "viruses" by reading the books that carry them. Obviously, this is not advisable for everybody—you certainly do not want to hand someone susceptible to New Age claims a copy of A New Earth—but he is right: It is wise for us to be able to refute the false claims carried in these books.Christians who have a biblical worldview can be invaluable in bringing a perspective to bear in dismantling these false ideas. Also, we can read good secondary sources to get better informed on what we are dealing with. For example, Richard Weikart has written an excellent book, From Darwin to Hitler, exposing the false ideas of Darwin and their dire consequences.But most of all, we need to know the biblical worldview even better than we know the false and destructive ideas, and that is where reading good books comes in. Ideas don't disappear when we try to suppress them, but they can be discredited by better and worthier ideas. So start with reading The Good Book—the Bible—and knowing it well. But also familiarize yourself with the great Christian classics and the giants of literature—the books and ideas that have stood the test of time and raised up our minds and hearts, instead of corrupting them. If you need help knowing what some of those are, drop by our website and especially our blog to join in the conversation with fellow bookworms, to get ideas from them and to share your own. Or check out Dr. Ken Boa's excellent "Great Books Audio CD" series that I talk about so often on "BreakPoint."Summer is a time for relaxing, refreshment, and revival. When I am fatigued, physically or spiritually, I find that it is The Good Book and other good books that revive me. So make sure you stop by and let us help you get revived this summer.Click HereClick Here Wist u dat de God van u houdt?Avez-vous su que Dieu vous aime ?Wußten Sie, daß Gott Sie liebt?Avete saputo che il dio li ama?Você soube que o deus o ama?¿Usted sabía que el dios le ama?http://everystudent.com/menus/intl.htmlClick HereClick Here
*"Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing - and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even." --Will Rogers
When Deaths Outnumber Births -- The Parable of PittsburghDemography is not destiny, but that claim is not, humanly speaking, far off the mark. The pattern of populations and social behaviors will establish the character and contours of any civilization. For this reason, any major change in the population is significant, and the more unexpected the change, the more significant its impact.Thus, Americans should take a close look at the fact that in a handful of major metropolitan areas, deaths now outnumber births. In times past, this would have indicated a major catastrophe such as famine, plague, or war. But with regard to these cities, the causes include nothing to do with famine, plague, or war.The New York Times reports that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a symbol of this new development. As the paper reported in its May 18, 2008 edition, this development is significant indeed.From the report:Hospitals are closing obstetrics wards and converting them to acute care. Local governments and other social service providers are adjusting to the emergence of entire neighborhoods where the average age is soaring, and private foundations are awarding scholarships to retain students and attract new ones.In Pittsburgh, public school enrollment plummeted from about 70,000 two decades ago to about 30,000 and continues shrinking by about 1,000 a year."At a certain point the school system becomes no longer viable," said Grant Oliphant, the new president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, which is overseeing a program that provides college scholarships worth up to $40,000 for any student who has attended the city's public schools since the ninth grade and graduates from high school with a grade point average of at least 2.0.This report is certain to surprise many Americans -- those unaware of the looming demographic crisis faced by many American communities. Some of these citizens are probably aware of the collapsing birthrates in Europe and Japan, but thought that American exceptionalism would ensure that no similar development would reach American shores.Those same citizens are also probably unaware that America's birthrate just slightly above base population replacement is sustained at that level only by the higher reproduction rates of new immigrants -- to whom we should be grateful for representing their hopes by having children.The situation in Pittsburgh is complicated by factors including economic shifts and a general loss of population. But when all things are taken into consideration, this means that Pittsburgh will see more funerals than baby showers. A community cannot survive that imbalance for long. Warnings of such developments as a collapse of the schools are not projected all that far into the future.And Pittsburgh is not alone:Other metropolitan areas, too, are teetering on the brink of natural decrease.In the 1990s, deaths outnumbered births in only four metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 people, and three of those were in the South. Since 2000, 10 metropolitan areas -- half of them outside the South -- have suffered a net loss of population to natural decrease.In three other areas hurt by vanishing industry, Buffalo-Niagara Falls and Utica-Rome in upstate New York, and Duluth, Minn., deaths exceeded births in at least one year in this decade.The collapse of birthrates is a sign of huge social and moral transformations. Schools are called into question, but so are churches and other institutions. Falling church statistics across denominational lines are, to a significant degree, traceable to falling birthrates among members. This trend was first visible within the mainline Protestant denominations, but is now visible among Evangelicals, including the Southern Baptist Convention.Pittsburgh is becoming a parable of population loss for the rest of the nation. Will anyone take notice?
Any month that starts on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th in it. *** The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. London, England reached the mark in 1810 and New York, USA made it in 1875. Today, there are over 300 cities in the world that boast a pop- ulation in excess of 1 million. *** The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii is the largest volcano on Earth. It rises more than 50,000 feet (9.5 miles) above its base, which sits under the surface of the sea.
When your wife says, "What do you think?"she is not asking for YOUR opinion. She isasking for HER opinion, from your mouth.Classic.:)
I'm thankful for our troopswho sacrificed for our greatcountry...
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