Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekly Links: Wodehouse, Tolkien, and more!

Guarding the good reading...


(I should note: I've skipped posting this for a few weeks, but I was still collecting links, so this week's version is super-long. Sorry!)

(Note the second: if you want some good fictional reading, please take a look at my short story "An Anonymous Source" in Havok's Heroes vs. Villains edition. Hope you enjoy it!)


-"The Evangelical Gender Crack-Up" - There's so much good stuff here.

-"Individuality: a fresh concept":
You see what’s going on here? The prophet’s audience, the Jews of the Babylonian exile, find it hard to understand how anyone – let alone God – would not want to punish a son for his father’s wrongdoing. And vice versa. Acting in any other way seems to them not only stupid, but positively unjust. What we see happening here is a major cultural shift. A brand new idea in human history, imported from outside our world.
-"The Distressing Disguise of the Slut".

-"'We Know that We Are Going To Be Killed': An Interview with an Iraqi Priest".

-"Donald Trump, Man of Faith" - particularly this bit:
...the gloomy aspect of traditional Christian practice is also the wellspring of Christian compassion. At the moment a Christian asks for forgiveness, he must acknowledge his own weakness and look mercifully on the weakness of others. In the Our Father, the Christian asks that he be forgiven, just as he in turn forgives. From the holy terror that Peale called “fear thoughts” comes the light of Christian love.


-An older article that might be good to revisit this week: "How silence can breed prejudice: A child development professor explains how and why to talk to kids about race".


- "On Writing Negative Reviews" - I have to agree: negative reviews can be incredibly useful to the reader. And, I'd argue, to the author as well. I know I've read negative book reviews and thought, "The reviewer might not like that, but I'd love it," and gone ahead and picked up the book.

-"All In": On giving it everything, every time you write.

-"Interviews: P.G. Wodehouse" - just delightful.

-"Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year": I'm going to try. I truly am. Only 83 to go...

-"The Magic of the Lord of the Rings Books":
My favorite book began with a disappointment: The hero disappeared at the end of its first chapter...
-"Belle's Fairy Tale Education: Learning Virtue in Disney's Beauty and the Beast": a lovely meditation on the value of fairy tales, as seen in my favorite Disney movie ever.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Read my short story "An Anonymous Source"

I'm excited to announce that I have a short story appearing in this month's Havok Magazine, Heroes vs. Villains edition!

I first found out about Havok when I attended the Orange County Christian Writers' Conference back in April. I got to look at some of the issues there and talk to a few people who worked on the staff. And when I saw that they had a superheroes issue coming out, and then I realized that I had a story idea that would fit the theme ... well, I had to give it a shot.

And I'm happy to say that it paid off! You can read my short story, "An Anonymous Source", on page 14 of this month's issue of Havok. It's about a woman who realizes that there's more going on in her city than the news headlines would suggest, and who has to decide if--and what--she's going to do about it.

I hope you like it! And I know you'll enjoy the other great stories in this issue--Havok's a lot of fun, because all the stories are flash fiction: a lot of emotion, character, and action packed into a super-short word count. Nice and intense.

(And yes, this is the story that I wrote this blog post about.)

Happy reading!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

time for a terrible pun

I hear this *every time* that Taylor Swift song comes on.

Today I finally got around to drawing it.

-Jessica Snell

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yarnalong: "The Lifegiving Home" and "Pavement"

Today I'm linking up with Ginny, over at Small Things, who says, "Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading . . . I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?"

The book:
I'm reading "The Lifegiving Home" by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. So far, it's a lovely and restful read, perfect for summer.

The knitting:
The knitting is "Pavement", by Veera Välimäki (Rav link). It's a cute pullover and I'm ... well, honestly, I'm knitting it in order to knit up some old (really beautiful, but been-sittin'-in-my-stash-too-long) laceweight yarn. I'm holding two laceweight yarns double, and I like the fabric I'm getting. Here's a link to my project details on Ravelry.

Välimäki is the designer of the "Color Affection" shawl, which I knit not just once, not just twice, but three times. It's fun to finally take on one of her sweater designs.

What are you creating and reading this week?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Savory Oatmeal with Garlic, Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms, & Pepperjack

I have a new favorite breakfast. It lets me indulge in all my love of salty carbs, and still has a pretty reasonable calorie count and lots of fiber and vitamins and produce and other good stuff like that.

It's savory oatmeal.

Yes: all the health benefits of oatmeal can be yours, without once indulging in some overly-sweetened, pre-packaged junk that only a seven-year-old could love.

You can add any good and savory thing you like--I've heard tell of plopping a fried egg on top, or mixing in some sautéed onions--but this is how I like mine.

First, I measure in my half-cup of dry instant oats, and then I sprinkle in a generous amount of garlic powder, and a reasonable few shakes of salt and red pepper flakes:

Then I add my cup of water, mix, and microwave according to the directions on the tub--about a minute and a half on high.

Then I add a small can of drained mushrooms, about a cup of chopped-up tomatoes, and an ounce of pepperjack:

Then I pour some milk--maybe half a cup?--over the top and mix it all together:

Mmm. A big bowl of salty, carb-y goodness, all under 400 calories, and with 20 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber, to boot.

Eat hearty!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Notes: "Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed", by Adam Johnson

Yesterday I shared some quotations from Adam J. Johnson's "Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed", and today I wanted to share a proper review of the book.

(First, for full disclosure: I went to college with Adam, and he and his wife have been friends of ours for many years now. Most of what that means for this review is that now you know how I heard about this book!)

The first paragraph of "Atonement" gives a good feel for how Johnson approaches the doctrine of the atonement:

As I told my veteran pastor of my plans to do graduate studies in the doctrine of the atonement, a wry smile creased his face as he asked: 'So . . . which theory of the atonement do you believe in?' I responded: 'All of them!' The purpose of this book is to offer a more expansive answer to this question ...

In fact, this book takes on all the classical theories of the atonement and, rather than dismissing any of them, tries to mine the riches from all of them. In some ways, it reminded me of the way my kids eat ice cream on a hot day, licking up every last bit of goodness from the bowl: Johnson doesn't want any good thing that is ours in Christ to escape our grateful notice.

I appreciated the first several chapters of the book, which examine the lay of the land and remind me of all the theological classics I last read (too long ago!) in college, but the book really came alive for me in the middle chapters, which turn to examining the atonement in the light of:

-the Trinity
-the divine attributes,
-the life of Christ

These sections were golden. Books of hard theology (i.e., not lay-level theology) are, well, hard. But these middle chapters reminded me of why it's worth it for me, as a layperson, to read hard theology: because I am reminded of how good God is, and how much he has done for us, and how truly amazing his acts of mercy and grace really are.

By examining the doctrine of the atonement in light of the Trinity, I was reminded that only a triune God could have accomplished our deliverance. It was because of who God is - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - that the Redeemer could be sent by the Father, could live a life of obedience, and could come to be present within us through his Spirit. And only by God becoming man could humanity actually be reunited with God.

Johnson reminds us that we are not just saved from our sins, but we are saved "into the life and pattern of Christ" and that Jesus' life is "not merely an example to inspire us, but ... the reality into which we are swept ... Jesus had to live this life for it is our incorporation or assumption into this life by the Spirit which is our at-one-ment with God, which constitutes our salvation."

I also appreciated his understanding of God's wrath, in light of the cross. Johnson writes:

Much of our work in this book has emphasized the life-giving creative nature of Christ's atonement. But this cannot be at the expense of the destruction, judgement, wrath and death included within this same event - for while in the work of Christ God says 'YES' to humankind in Christ, he simultaneously says 'NO' to sin, evil and death. The Old Testament consistently holds the compassion of God for his people and his creatures in tension with his righteous anger against them...

And then, after observing that God passed over the sins of humankind not to overlook them, but to deal with them "in the right time and in the right way", Johnson makes this truly terrifying observation:

To be sure, he did not pass over these sins completely. Adam and Eve were sent from the garden, Israel was exiled, and many sins were punished - but God's response was always mingled with grace and patience, always giving room and making space for his sinful creatures, always seeking to bring them back to himself. The judgement, the punishment and the wrath were always muted, always a witness and testimony to that which would one day be fully released without restraint.

Which makes me pray with the words of the Te Deum, "We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge ... we therefore pray thee, HELP THY SERVANTS ..."

And, I suppose a good place to end this review would be to say, in this book I am reminded: God has answered that plea. Definitively.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Commonplace Book: quotations from Adam J. Johnson's "Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed"

"Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed" is a fascinating book (full review coming tomorrow). Here are some good quotations from it:

In short, because God is triune, God is free to take our sin up into his own life, and deal with it as God by means of the relationships proper to his own being and life. The bearing of and doing away with our sin is thus a thoroughly Trinitarian event. (pg. 82)

The goal is not merely to have faith, not merely to undo the effects of sin and death - the goal is the resurrection, being made alive in Christ that we might be imitators of him, and in this way live out the divine life to the fulfilment of our creaturely existence. In short, the atonement is a fundamentally creative and life-giving reality. This is because God atones for our sin by means of himself, by means of his creative and life-giving character, by means of the same person and character that created us in the first place. (pg. 106, emphasis mine)

...God is omnipresent. He is present to himself and to all that which he creates. His goal in creation is to share the divine life with the creature, that it too might have presence - a sphere of belonging and activity proper to the creature by means of which it can live, relate and extend itself through the activity. But what happens when we sin against the omnipresent God? We reject the reality of divine presence, hiding from God, and abusing our creaturely presence by exiling some and forcing others to be near us, turning presence into a matter of power and efficiency rather than a gift necessary for free relationship. (pg. 108)

...the events in the life of Jesus are all the more significant to humankind because he is the one in whose image we are made, his life is the life to which we conform, and it is our living from, in and for this image that constitutes our human flourishing within the purposes of God. (pg. 119)

...Christ ... is redeeming human history by being obedient where we fell short, creating the new and decisive history into which we are being brought or incorporated. (pg. 120)

...spiritual growth unfettered by sin naturally overflows into worship. (pg. 150)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)