It Just Gets Better

It Just Gets Better

  • Sumo

Here you go… you’re in! And I’m glad. Thanks for being an active reader of Something Solid.

You’ll find all the same links here that you saw highlighted on the e-newsletter itself. When you clicked on the “Editor’s Notes” link, you were whisked to this website, where all the stories “live.” This particular webpage just provides a permanent, bookmark-able menu (see below) for all the articles in the August issue of Something Solid.

Here’s the short version:

For the study on The Biggest Misunderstanding About Jesus, click here.

For the profile on author John R. Erickson, click here.

For the commentary called Social Gospels to the Side, click here.

For my tongue-in-cheek bit on Chicken-Fried Bacon, click here.

For the list of Coming Attractions, click here.

And the longer version:

Marble head of JesusClick here for The Biggest Misunderstanding About Jesus.

The Biggest Misunderstanding About Jesus. With this issue I begin a thread of thought that will crop up with regularity. I have found too many instances of it, in my doctrinal studies, to ignore it. In fact, most of my writings on matters of scripture (and I have already penned two books) expose some form or other of doublethink. Once I learned to spot it in Bible doctrine, I realized it was rampant.

What is doublethink? Many of you doubtless already know that it is an Orwellian term—one that so many high school English students encounter in their reading (is it still required reading?) of George Orwell’s political/totalitarian novel 1984.

I don’t employ the term in quite the sense that Orwell does, because he applies it in the context of political propaganda, and I use it in a broader sense that focuses purely on contradictions. But Orwell’s own definition of doublethink works fine for my purposes.

He called it “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

I submit that in Christian circles today, a great deal of the doctrinal dismay and exegetical murkiness that we encounter is due to the tendency that the modern mind has to embrace two ideas simultaneously, and accept both of them, without realizing that the two ideas are mutually exclusive.

This is indeed a phenomenon of modern society. Orwell warned the world that tendencies such as doublethink were on the increase. I contend that doublethink has encroached into Biblical exegesis and theology and colored the way that we read and understand (misunderstand?) the Bible.

But all of this defining and explaining will mean nothing if I do not produce a simple example. That’s what my article does. It takes a very commonplace concept from the New Testament and demonstrates that we moderns have long held two contradictory views on the idea.

This one has to do with the source of the miraculous powers that Jesus possessed while He walked on earth. Did He hold those powers by virtue of who He was? Or was He able to exercise those powers because they were supplied to Him by the Holy Spirit, who endued Jesus with power at His baptism?

As you will see, it cannot be both.

There are many other instances of doublethink in Bible doctrine. I share this article purely as an introduction to the subject. But I do think it is worth reading for other reasons too. Enough of my pitch. : - )  You know where to click!

Jesse Mullins and John Erickson
John Erickson (right) with me (JFM) at the Western Heritage Awards, April, 2007. We lugged home two of those hefty bronzes, but he was responsible for both. PHOTO BY JOE OWNBEY.

Click here for John R. Erickson, Story Crafter. The email message came in 2006, probably in May, a couple of months after Texas’ worst range fire in modern times. I was editor-in-chief of American Cowboy magazine, and I recognized the sender as the much-beloved author of the Hank the Cowdog stories for young people. John R. Erickson had contributed some excellent nonfiction to our magazine in years past. This email would hold his best to date.

A couple of paragraphs in, I read this line: “About 8:00 that night… we loaded up in our Excursion… and drove up to a high spot in the east pasture, where we had a good view of the country to the south. There, we saw an astonishing sight, a line of flames that lit up the entire southern horizon and appeared to be 50 miles long. The reports on the radio said that the towns of Miami, Wheeler, Canadian, McLean, and Allanreed were being evacuated. In such a high wind, any fire is beyond control. You feel utterly helpless and fear begins to gnaw. This fire was a killer.”

I didn’t need to be a paid journo to know that what I was reading was something special. As soon as the deal was struck, I scheduled a two-parter (6 pages to each part), and we made space for Part I in the issue we were then beginning. Before year’s end, we’d entered it in a national competition, and by the following spring John and I were in Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy Museum, where he accepted the prestigious Western Heritage Award.

That honor meant a lot to our magazine. It lifted our profile within our industry.

As impressed as I was with that article of John’s, I was more impressed with the message he shares in his new bookStory Craft, a bellwether book for anyone who cares about the dynamics, not to mention the stakes, of the culture wars. John’s chapter on Disney Studios is, by itself, worth the price of the book. It is a case study in how giant media interacts with individual creative talents—particularly individual creative talents who are dead set on maintaining the principles that their products stand for.

My piece on John and his book is the most ambitious article I have tackled since launching this e-newsletter last March, and definitely the most photo-rich article. The fine photography by Nathan Dahlstrom (I wish I could have run the photos huge, but the page formats did not permit it) is worth the click, even if all you want to do is scroll down through it.

Preacher at high tech pulpitClick here for Social Gospels to the Side. This is another topic that I will revisit from time to time. It is currently an issue of hot discussion among Christians. How we respond could well affect decide the course of Christianity in America. This article also has embedded in it a link to another posting I put on the site in-between newsletter issues. That article, called “Social Justice… or Something Higher?” has gotten probably close to 1,000 hits. It has been the biggest draw on my site this past summer.

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Chicken-fried Bacon. I don’t want to make too much of this little, throwaway article. Just having some fun with an actual menu item at an actual restaurant in the town where I live. Click here for the item.

And, again, the Coming Attractions are here.

That’s it! If you are wondering if you missed an issue, I can understand why you’d think that. This is the third issue of Something Solid. I’ve called it the “August” Issue, but it is actually the July-August issue. I got more ambitious on the contents of this one and that extra work put me behind. But the fact is that this is No. 3, and unless you overlooked Numbers 1 or 2 in your inbox, you shouldn’t have missed any. If you want a back issue (No. 1 or No. 2), please let me know and I will just forward it to you. Thanks for your patience! I’m hopefully optimistic of getting No. 4 out sometime in September.

May the Good Lord bless you! Always happy to hear from any of you.

Jesse

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