A Giver of Rings

From First Thoughts

Beowulf contains a great many lessons relevant to daily living. First, don’t go to sleep near the hero or the monster will eat you. Second, after you kill a monster don’t go to sleep before knowing whether the monster has a mother bent on vengeance. If you don’t take care, she . . . . Continue Reading »

On Burning Books

From First Thoughts

Burning the Koran is stupid, offensive, and generally wicked.It is easy to show that burning the Koran is stupid for a Christian to do. You might think a woman’s beloved husband unworthy, but burning his picture is a bad opening move. You certainly will get her attention, but not her . . . . Continue Reading »

Magical versus Miraculous Thinking

From First Thoughts

Or, Living Supernaturally Without Being a WizardWhat is a poor Muggle to do?Muggles lack magic, J.K. Rowling tells me, and there is no doubt I am a muggle. My students are Muggles too, but worst of all instead of Dumbledore in class, they get me. Sometimes I get on the elevator in my two-story . . . . Continue Reading »

So Horrible It Taints All

From First Thoughts

Reflections after reading Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave GirlSlavery was the original American sin.I don’t know anyone who justifies race-based slavery, but I have known seemingly good folk with more than a dollop of sympathy for the Confederacy. Growing centralized . . . . Continue Reading »

Pentecostal Power and Euripides

From First Thoughts

I have lain on the floor under the power of God . . . at least, I must say to my skeptical reader, it seemed so to me. At some points in my life, it felt as if God came and took power over every faculty and left me weak, utterly powerless, before His glory.When praying for Pentecost, sometimes we . . . . Continue Reading »

A Summer of Salinger

From First Thoughts

Somehow I missed soaking in Salinger as a young adult. In this, if my current students are any indication, I am a rarity. They know Catcher in the Rye the way I knew That Hideous Strength. If I worried about being Mark Studdock, then they worried about being another misunderstood Holden Caulfield. Continue Reading »

Just to Hear and See Jesus

From First Thoughts

I get tired, and I know I’m not alone. We are tired of all we do. We are weary of words. There are so many of them. When I think of writing anything, but am wary of words, I get tired. How can I write on a topic without presumption that has been covered so many times by so many skillful . . . . Continue Reading »

Books that Changed My Life

From First Thoughts

I have decided to list the books that changed my life . . . not the best books I have read. How to get on the list? First, I have read it more than ten times. Second, I can see the cover of my first copy in my mind’s eye. Third, it is a book I have carried to an event that had nothing to do . . . . Continue Reading »

On Too Many Adjectives

From First Thoughts

I have quite a few bad habits, but here is one that can be told on this blog and not just in the confessional: I sometimes use too many adjectives.This week I was reminded of this problem when I became irritated with a description on this blog of a political commentator as a Mormon. “What in . . . . Continue Reading »