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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

New article at the Colson Center

My new article in the series “Christians who Changed their World” is up at the Colson Center. We’re continuing with non-Western Christians with Nitobe Inazo. Also, if you haven’t done so already, please see my updated website at www.esquareinch.com.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New article on Niijima Jo, in Christians who Changed their World

I'm a bit late in posting this, but I have rebooted the series on Christians who Changed their World at the Colson Center. This set will focus on non-Western Christians and women. The first, published last week, was on Niijima Jo, also known in America as Joseph Hardy Neesima.

After the article came out, I received an e-mail from a friend about Niijima. With his permission, I am copying it here:

Thank you so much for the latest article. My wife is from Japan, so after I read it we talked for a while. Niijima Jo is fairly well known in Japan. Even more well-known is one of his teachers from Amherst, William Smith Clark, who was asked to start an agricultural school in Hokkaido. He spent 8 months there setting up the school. As a result of his work, not only was a nationally known school created (which exists today as Hokkaido University), but several dozen students came to Christ, some of whom were influential as well.

My wife read up on Niijima Jo and his wife tonight on the Japanese section of Wikipedia, and apparently she was quite a woman as well. She was teaching at a girl's school when they first met, and she was well known for demanding that the governor support the school financially, to the point of going to his house, apparently uninvited, to talk to him about it, which was considered extremely inappropriate for a woman at the time. Jo had told one of his mentors that he wanted a woman who would not blindly follow her husbands lead, and the man immediately told him about her.

Also of note is the fact that Jo
started a school for girls a year after he started his first boy's school. Educating women was not seen as a worthwhile endeavour in Japan at the time, and this choice says a lot about his character.

Thank you again for the article. It brightened our day!

He also pointed me to a book on Neesima's life and letters available free through Google books.

Thank you, Jason!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Every Square Inch Webpage

I've got a webpage up for my teaching and worldview ministry. It's at esquareinch.com, short for "Every Square Inch."  The name comes from a quotation from Abraham Kuyper: Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!" I'll be starting a 501(c)3 soon for Every Square Inch Ministries, but in the meantime, check out the site. It's got a bio, links to my books, supporting materials for Portals, links to audio and video resources and articles, and an event calendar, with more material being put up regularly. Check it out!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, J. R. R. Tolkien

Today is J. R. R. Tolkien’s 121st birthday. (I wonder if that's the same as eleventy-eleven?)

Tolkien has been my favorite author since I first read him in 1976 prior to my freshman year at Michigan State University. Toward the end of my senior year in high school, I heard about Tolkien from some friends. When I had some time before moving to Michigan for school, I went to a bookstore to buy The Hobbit. I was so taken with it that the next day I went back and bought The Lord of the Rings. I read the complete set four times over the next twelve months, before going to school and in between every trimester at Michigan State. I then bought The Silmarillion as soon as it came out, along with some of the books about Tolkien that were starting to be published in the late-70s.
I was so much of a Tolkien fanatic that one year 23 of my friends all chipped in and bought me a leather bound edition of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which to this day is the favorite gift I have ever been given and one of my treasured possessions.

From Tolkien, I discovered other fantasy and science fiction authors, including some of my favorites like C. S. Lewis and Roger Zelazny. I also read Larry Niven, Ursula LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle, …, and took a cognate field (sort of like a minor) in comparative literature. When I graduated from college, I began going to Renaissance festivals, learned about Celtic music and began playing it, and then moved into early music as well. All of which was inspired ultimately by Tolkien.

Tolkien also influenced my theology. His essay “On Faerie Stories” had a number of significant insights in it, but I haven’t completely integrated those into my thinking. Of more importance, however, was the figure of Aragorn. Through his character, Tolkien taught me for the first time, the nature of lordship, and what it meant when I confessed that “Jesus is Lord.” (That is one of the things that was lost in translation in the film version, unfortunately.)

I am glad that Tolkien is getting the recognition he deserves in popular culture, however much I may disagree with some of Jackson’s decisions in the trilogy. Much as I enjoy the films, the distortion of some of the characters has always rubbed me the wrong way. Be that as it may, if the films and the new Hobbit trilogy open up a wider audience for the books, it will be a good thing.

Happy birthday, Professor!