Welcome to Tim Varner's blog. I live in Lambertville, MI. Kerri, my wife, and I have two children, Chloe and Benaiah. We worship at Christ the Word Presbyterian Church, Toledo, OH. Stop in to hear my occassional thoughts about the words I'm reading in books or hearing in conversation.


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Too Few Daughters Named Jael

I think it comes from our failure to see creation as poetic expression, but I'm not sure. Whatever the case, evangelicals consistently misread the merit of various cultural out workings.

Consider the movies Magnolia and Ocean's 11. The former might be dismissed as lewd, base, profane--even blasphemous and sacrilegious. The latter is casually accepted as relatively benign; a source of cheap entertainment and mindless fun, but posing no real threat to our moral sense. And if these claims were disputed, many concerned mothers would offer a quick foul word count to make their case. As if by counting the number of thorns on a bush they are able to determine its beauty. But thorns cannot be properly understood apart from noting the greenness of their stems. And you know nothing of a bush unless you follow it from the soil up, eventually resting your eyes on its flowering buds and smelling its fragrant bouquet.

Magnolia's characters are wicked; a point all recognize because the movie makes it plain. These characters are not appreciated for their wickedness. They are tolerated only when held in tension with the movie's themes--the significance of every action, the helplessness of man, the judgment of wickedness, repentance, and the wonder of mercy. In like manner, Ocean's 11 is about a band of wicked men. Unlike Magnolia, Ocean's 11 is enjoyable only when one adopts the position of cheerleading for sinners to win at sinning. The wicked are not seen as wretched; rather they are hip urbane heroes. An evangelical mother would think nothing of her teenage son watching Ocean's 11, but if caught watching Magnolia he would be scolded.

This problem extends well beyond television screens. It surfaces wherever narrative is found. And since everything is a narrative, we are more than chest deep in the mud of sloppy readings. Prudish pietism falsely passed off for godliness is due for a good clubbing. A good to place to start is by reorienting ourselves to God's Word as God's Word. Not only is all Scripture worthwhile for instruction, but it is also a perfect expression of meaningful--and beautiful--story telling. This includes Leviticus with its gory descriptions and talk of menstruation and testicles. Fences are useful, but not when they make Ehud an embarrassment and leave us with an emasculated Jesus.

  posted by Tim @ 3:59 PM

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Saturday, May 03, 2003  

Venus Rising

I loved you for your beauty
but that doesn't make a fool of me
you were in it for your beauty, too

--Leonard Cohen

While on a recent walk some friends and I passed-by a fitness facility. One of the more clever members of our clan said, "Let's pray that our wives never look like that!" He was referring to a taut young blonde with tight, well, manish thighs and a pair of thug arms to match. And though we couldn't see them, I'm sure she had a rippling six pack beneath her Fear This sweatshirt. Just the type of gal the guys howl over. After all, she is everything a woman wants in a man.

  posted by Tim @ 9:56 PM

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Wednesday, April 30, 2003  

Times of Plenty and Little

Financially speaking, my net worth does not stand tall against any of the usual measuring sticks. Still, it is a source of ceaseless amazement to me how rich I am. And I don't mean this, to use an evangelical cliche, in the spiritual sense.

Kerri and I often host meals. Not only does God provide enough that we may provide for others, but He provides enough that we may provide a wide assortment of appetizers, beverages, and deserts. We consume books and movies in a seemingly endless stretch of indulgence. My daughter has clothes in her closet that she'll never wear--the kind gifts of family and friends who are also adrift in abundance. Every friend to enter our home is witness to this plentitude of things. If we have anything, we have stuff, and it's everywhere.

Still, as I reflect on all that God has given me, there are things I may safely say I have too little of--stuff like thankfulness, praise, gratitude, and joy.

  posted by Tim @ 10:28 PM

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Monday, April 28, 2003  
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