This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In Memoriam: Charles W. Colson (1931-2012)

Chuck Colson died one year ago today.

Chuck was a man who made an enormous difference to me personally, who quite literally changed the direction of my life. I came to his attention due to a cassette that someone who had not even heard it gave to him, which he happened to put into the stereo in the car he was riding in on his way home from the conference at which I spoke. After hearing it, he invited me onto the faculty of the Centurions program.

I loved (and still love) working with the Centurions. I consider it one of the most important things that I do, and Chuck saw to it that I was integrated tightly into the program.

Things quickly escalated from there. Chuck brought me on as the content consultant for Wide Angle and had me work on the study guide for it; I did the same for Walk the Talk. Chuck informed me that he needed me in Princeton on a particular date, and suddenly I was on the panel for Doing the Right Thing; I soon drafted multiple versions of the study guide as well.

Chuck then asked me to write a short book on worldviews; that turned into Portals. As T. M. Moore once commented to me, “Glenn, God loves you and Chuck has a wonderful plan for your life!”

In the midst of all this, Chuck was invariably encouraging, a friend and mentor to me as I moved from focusing on early modern European history to worldview. He told me that he wanted to spend his last years promoting the ministry of people like me, and in my case, he certainly did.

Even more important to me in many ways was his welcome to my family at Centurions conferences. He always was encouraging to them, especially to my children, and spoke good things into their lives. And when he saw them again, he called them by name and greeted them with hugs. For that, I will be eternally grateful to him.
But all this is only the beginning of the impact Chuck had on my life. The connections I made through Chuck and the Centurions have expanded the range of my writing, teaching and ministry far beyond anything I could have imagined.

Through the Centurions, I found out about the Acton Book Grant, which I won. That led to my book, Why You Think the Way You Do and to appearing in Acton Media’s The Birth of Freedom.  I was also asked to be a regular columnist for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview by T. M. Moore, which would never have happened without the connection made through the Centurions.

Centurion graduates got me speaking engagements in California, Michigan, Texas, Maine, Kansas, Massachusetts, …. My trip to China this March was arranged by a Centurion. I got invited to speak in Shanghai this summer and to teach and do research in Mongolia as well, both through Centurions. My daughter is working in Taiwan with ORTV because of a connection formed by a Centurion. And I strongly suspect that the ripples started by the Centurions in my life will continue expanding.

Chuck changed the direction of my life and opened up opportunities that I would never have had otherwise. And I am grateful to him for that. But mostly, I am grateful that this great, well-known Christian leader took the initiative to reach out to me, to believe in my abilities, to plug me into his own ministry, and to treat me as a friend and colleague. That is more than I could have asked for, more than I deserve, and one of the finest examples of grace that I have experienced in this life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shi Meiyu (1873-1954)

My new article is up at the Colson Center. It's on Shi Meiyu, the first Chinese woman to receive a medical degree from a Western university.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Matthew Warren, Elizabeth Sunshine, and Martin Luther

My daughter Elizabeth and I have both had our struggles with depression. Matthew Warren's suicide hit her hard. Her response hit me hard. If you've ever dealt with depression or are dealing with the aftermath of suicide, these words may help.

I have seen some "Christians" who have announced their certainty that Matthew cannot be saved because of his suicide. For them, I offer this scene from the movie Luther. The events depicted didn't actually occur, but Luther's words in the first half of this clip are worth pondering before you pronounce judgment on Matthew or the Warrens.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Travels in China

It’s been a while since I’ve done a real blog post. Life’s been a bit out of control, I’m afraid. I’ll continue posting links to articles, but I thought I’d begin a series of short reports based on a trip I took recently to China.

I went under the auspices of the America China Civic Exchange (ACCE). This is an organization that fosters cooperative ventures between American and Chinese individuals and institutions. I was there through a connection with Bill Redmond, a former congressman from New Mexico and a graduate of the Centurions program. My role was to help lay the groundwork for a worldview training program in China. That was only a small part of the trip, but I was able to participate and sometimes contribute to meetings on a wide range of other subjects as well.

How wide a range? We spoke with the woman who is in charge of developing a unified e-commerce system for all of China. We negotiated with a state-run television station for the first joint US-China television series, surrounding the building of the transcontinental railroad. We did a lot of meetings surrounding various ventures of Lincoln Christian University, including talking about online courses, translating textbooks into Chinese, setting up exchanges, even looking into the possibility of a branch campus in China. We spoke to people about hospice care and special education. We met with house church leaders and Christian publishers. We spent an afternoon at a school that produces music ministers for both the government run Three Self churches and the house churches. And that’s not even everything.

It was pretty intense.

I’ll write about some of the meetings and the things I learned about China in later posts, but for now, I wanted to make two general observations about China. First, everything you’ve heard about the air pollution is true. Everywhere we went, from the Great Wall and Beijing to Guangzhou in southern China, there was dense smog. The only sunny day we had was after a rainstorm had cleared the air; the next day, though, it was back to smog. I got a cough almost from the time I arrived, and it is only going away now, a week after I got home.

Second, driving anywhere in China is like being in a slow motion action movie. I’ve seen some crazy driving before—Italy comes to mind here—but the Chinese have got them beat. Lanes are suggestions at best; even driving on the right hand side of the road is a suggestion at times. And all this is with cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycle-rickshaws, handcarts, etc., all vying for space on the road. I was in buses that did K-turns at major intersections. And despite this, there were almost no accidents that we saw, and none of them major.

Akira Kurosawa did a movie called Ran. It’s essentially King Lear set in feudal Japan. At one point, there was an enormous and graphic battle, but all the sounds were replaced by classical music. It was intentionally jarring and disturbing. In Wenzhou, where the school for music ministers was located, I was in the front seat of the car of one of the instructors there, travelling across the city to the Brandenburg Concertos. I couldn’t help but think of the battle scene in Ran.