Tuesday, January 31, 2006

WIR -- How Long, O Lord

How Long, O Lord: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
by D. A. Carson

I have already insisted that there is a proper sense in which we should be outraged by death. But there is a cultural factor at work in the Western world that must be squarely faced. Death has become the last taboo. I can write about sex and breasts, discuss homosexuality in public and debate the ethics of abortion, but I must not mention death in civilized company.

Corpses are whisked off to the undertakers' where family members will not see them until they have been "prepared." Even the bereaved themselves find candor difficult. Many is the grieving family that refuses to talk out its grief, even within the family -- with incalculable loss of comfort and perspective. Meanwhile, incredible advances in medical science have convinced us we have the right to live.

The Puritans published sermons and books on how to die well; they cherished collected "last words" of Christians who had already gone to be with the Lord. But we find it exceedingly difficult to look death squarely in the face and talk about it. [page 116]

Monday, January 30, 2006

End of the Spear

Katherine and I saw End of the Spear last night. Since this is a "Christian" movie, I did not have high expectations. I was intrigued that it was the eighth highest grossing movie last weekend, but I was ready for a dissapointment. I must give two reviews.

1. Movie Review. One character was filled out well -- not bad. The other characters are pretty flat. The plot does not build very well, the tension is almost completely resolved several times in the movie, so they could have ended the movie after 20 minutes and people would have been fine. There are good connections made throughout the movie and it is a unified story, nod doubt. But the typical cinematic tension building is not well done. Actually, this is more like real life, I think -- I didn't feel manipulated as much as I thought I would. The scenary is amazing. The writing was pretty good, but not great. Overall it is a fair movie. Worth your time -- you should see it.

2. Theological Review. Stunning. Amazing. Awesome. I love combining conservative orthodoxy with liberal orthopraxy. It was clear that the white people were "missionaries of the gospel" who were trying to tell these "untouched" people about the "Son of [God]." They even distinguish between the saved (going to heaven) and the unsaved (not going to heaven) -- between those who are "ready to die" and those who are not. However, the message of nonviolence is amazing. Best line in the movie -- "If you kill one more time, you will kill us all." Conversion results from voluntary redemptive suffering of the innocent.

Take a box of tissues. Tell me what you think and how you feel about this movie, please.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Since we moved recently, we've been without a TV.

There are a couple shows I wish I could see. SNL, the Office, NFL.

But really, we don't miss it. In fact, I've been reading more, and we've been building relationships more -- that's good for us. For example -- this week. On Monday night we spent the evening on the phone with a good friend. Tuesday night we were hosted at the home of some new friends (btw, their condo had the most magnificent view I have ever seen). Last night we had a dinner party -- a friend from church, our next-door neighbor (who was displaced from New Orleans) and his friend. Tonight, we're having two couples for dinner and hiring a teenage girl from our church to watch their kids upstairs so we can talk. This has been a pretty typical week for us in the last month.

No TV.

Is TV really that great? Does anyone feel good about the time you spend with the TV? I would guess that many people think a couple shows are worth watching, but how many people stick to just those shows? Is this not an addiction? Can you stop watching whenever you want? Really?

No TV.

I think I might like it. I think it might be good for me. I think I might not get that super TV tuner for my computer.

No TV.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

"I am with you always"

With you always.

I guess I can appreciate what this guy is trying to do, but mostly, I just think it's funny.

Take a look at the truck driver -- Jesus looks pretty creepy, and the truck driver looks pretty creeped out -- or maybe really constipated.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

WIR -- Chameleon Christianity

Chameleon Christianity
by Dick Keyes

Terrific little book I'm re-reading. Here's in intersting quote from the beginning.

Some years ago I received two letters in the same week. One was from the Moral Majority and the other was from Katharine Hepburn, writing for Planned Parenthood. The messages were almost exactly the same. Both could be paraphrased, "There is a well-funded and powerful minority in this country that is trying to take away all that America stands for, as well as your own personal freedom. But there is hope -- we are here. Your contribution will help us stand against this group and the destructive legislation that they sponser at this critical moment in our nation's history." The rhetoric was identical although the political perspectives were violently opposed. Neither group made an argument but rather each fed off their followers' fear of the other. [page 18]

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


For those not familiar with Strong Bad, it might be a little confusing. Hard to explain, if it looks interesting to you, just look around for more Strong Bad.

He's hilarious. Happy Birthday, Trogdor.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

WIR -- Looking for God in Harry Potter

Looking for God in Harry Potter
by John Granger

Read it last night. If my article on Harry Potter interests you at all, pick up this book. Same stuff, tons more references, explanations, symbols, etc. Well done, though perhaps overdone. I enjoyed it -- quick read. Might be hard if you haven't read Harry Potter, yet. If you have read it, this book will open your eyes and you'll want to go back and read it again.

Rowling is not a great writer. Her books have become very long and loose. They could easily be tightened up. However, she is a brilliant story writer. I'm convinced that those who oppose Harry must be quite uneducated. Granger points out allusions to Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen and many others. I am not very familiar with these classics, though I probably should be. Anyway, I feel like I'm just rambling because most of what I want to say about the issue is in my article, which, in some ways, is like a condensation of Granger's book (though I wrote my article before I read the book).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Funny Stuff

Pi, not Pie

Thanks to my friend, jonponder for the link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pics, as requested

For my out-of-town readers, some pictures of our new home. Some inside, some outside. I really like the one looking out our dining room window that shows a big building outside.

And a few pictures of our friend, Claire (and Katherine) on the beach a few days ago. It was unusually windy, and a little cold -- around 60 degrees. Claire comes to us from St. Louis, MO, so it's pretty warm for her in January. People were swimming in the ocean -- they were crazy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Home

We've been in our new home since December 1. And we love it. Maybe I should get pictures for you. 2 Floors, 2 Bedrooms (both upstairs), 1 Bathroom (also upstairs). Hardwood floors everywhere (almost). We can walk to the grocery store, the post office, the library, the rec center, the Starbucks, the Barnes & Noble, about 30 restaurants, other assorted shops, downtown Coral Gables. And we have a huge parking lot at our back door, ready for many guests. It's wonderful. Huge windows throughout make it hard to find wallspace for my bookshelves, but that's a problem I don't mind -- we've made it work well.

It's the largest place we've ever lived, and very close to the airport, the beach, the shopping, the museums, and downtown Miami. We're in the middle of everything.

So, when do you want to come and visit Miami? We have an extra bedroom, and plenty of space. We've had several out-of-town guests already, and Claire is coming tonight for a few days, but we have nobody scheduled after her.

Do you need pictures?

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I recently gathered all my materials and submitted them so that I can become a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC). Civilian chaplaincy is a profession, and we have our professional organizations. Teachers must be certified, attourneys must be members of the bar (or something like that), nurses must be licensed. Chaplains, too. I submitted all kinds of paper work. Biography, theological papers, practical theory papers, clinical case studies, recomendations from collegues, etc. In all, I submitted over 100 pages of documentation that will now be reviewed by the Association of Professional Chaplains. Hopefully, they'll decide to interview me this summer and then decide by vote in the Fall of 2006. If everything goes well, I would become a member in Spring of 2007. Believe it or not, I'm going through the process about as fast as anyone can. It takes about 3 and a half years after becoming a full-time chaplain to be Board Certified.

Once this happens, I'll be able to add another official abbreviation to my name. If and when I'm certified, my professional name will be:

The Rev. William Sofield, M.Div., BCC

I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I suppose the process of ensuring quality of care and thereby stamping approval on somebody who is approved is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

David and Goliath

My pastor will be on vacation January 29, so he's asked me to preach. I think I'll preach on David and Goliath. I taught it recently in my series on 1 Samuel, for the first time. I take a very redemptive-historical approach, which is refreshing compared with all the moralistic interpretations of the story. I had several people who had been "in church" for 40+ years tell me that they never heard it explained this way, but they were absolutely convinced that I was right and they've been taught wrongly before. For months afterward, people are still talking about that lesson. As I've reflected on it, it was pretty good, but I could make it much better, and I think I will.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
David met het hoofd van Goliath, by 16th century painter, Caravaggio

Monday, January 09, 2006

Health Problems

Ok -- a little too much information -- just skip to the next post if you don't know or care about me, I won't be offended.

1. For the last week, I've had conjunctivitis, pink eye. Don't know how I got uldnot to highly contagious. Therefore, I could not work at the hospital. I had to take sick days even though I felt fine -- not physical pain or anything. Now, I have to wear my glasses at least for a few days until I'm done with the antibiotics. Bummer.

2. With the combination of the anxiety of our His House experience, moving, etc. and the holidays, I've gained some weight. That's an understatement. Right now I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life. This morning I weighed in at 218 pounds. Wow! Today I hit the elliptical machine before work, and I brought tuna on whole wheat sandwiches to eat every two hours during work. I'm back on track. I'm gonna lose the weight, get heatlthy again.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy Holidays

I am a Christian minister and I use the phrase, "Happy Holidays." My wife adn I laugh at the offense some take in these words, just as they laugh at the offnese taken by our Jewish brothers and sisters who take offense at the term "Merry Christmas." I sure don't mind offending people, but I don't want to offend them with my terminology, I want to offend them with the gospel. The word "Christmas" is not the gospel or Christ.

Not only that, but there are two big holidays at this time of year for me. Christmas and New Years. So, I say, "Happy Holidays" to you, my readers (both of you).

This was the first year my wife and I were alone for Christmas. We had a terrific Christmas Eve service at our church, and another one Christmas morning. On Christmas morning at church, we did something familiar from my Baptist past which never happens in Presbyterian cirlces. We had a spontaneous carol sing. Pick your favorite carol, and let's all sing it. I thoguht about finding the most obscure carol I could find, claim it was my favorite and make everyone sing it, but I didn't. I got upset when people picked advent songs rather than Chrsitmas songs, but that's something I need to get over.

Katherine and I don't exchange presents for Christmas, we buy new festive clothes. I got a new pair of pants, and a new spiffy shirt, and a terrific new belt. I was stylin' in church on Christmas morn'. We tried to watch the LOTR Trilogy (Extended), but we barely got through the Fellowship. That afternoon, my parents called and told us they'd be arriving for New Year's.

They came with 6 of my brothers and sisters on Saturday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon, the first. Great fun. The manitees avoided us completely, but we had a fun time at the beach on New Year's eve. For visitors from the foreign frozen North of Chattanooga, swimming at the beach in the dead cold of winter was great.

Watch for more updates soon.