Weekend Reading: February 25, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading!  Happy Saturday from our Nation’s Capital, where our family is touring some museums and historical sites for the weekend. So given my time restraints, I’m going to keep this brief…

There has been some major success in Iraq that’s worth reporting, because I didn’t see this hit a lot of the regular news outlets. Iraqi, and U.S. coalition forces are close to taking back Mosul, which is the second largest city in Iraq. For the last two years the group ISIS has been in control of the city.

More national security stuff this week, this one you probably saw: Trump picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be national security adviser.  Ironically, several months ago I had purchased McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty, but have yet to read it. The General wrote the book and released it in 1977, and it focuses on how Generals at the time of the Vietnam War caved to political pressure from politicians.  The Washington Post, whose writing since the Election has become rather venomous, used this literary ditty on McMaster as a way to verbally backhand the President who was cagy about how much golf he’d been playing in the last few weeks.  But they do give a good little summary of the book:

McMaster’s narrative focused on a handful of key decisions that were made from 1963 to 1965. “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field,” he concluded. “It was lost in Washington, D.C., even before Americans … realized the country was at war. … The disaster in Vietnam was not the result of impersonal forces but a uniquely human failure, the responsibility for which was shared by President [Lyndon] Johnson and his principal military and civilian advisers. The failings were many and reinforcing: arrogance, weakness, lying in the pursuit of self-interest, and, above all, the abdication of responsibility to the American people.”

Anyone who calls our Lyndon Johnson for the corrupt politician that he was is a hero in my book.

The American Conservative ran a provocative headline, with a more informational story worth scanning: Polygamy: The Next Frontier.  This is something that Al Mohler and others have been warning us about for years now.

Funny: Someone had linked to a GQ article about how fashion designers are contemplating a move back to baggier, boxier suits for men again. I’m totally against going back to giant shoulder pads, btw.  But this story, the pictures, they’re just outrageous. This designer was hailed as some sort of genius, but if I wore ANY of these things, I’d be ridiculed…nothing fits anyone in any way. It just reminded me of how ridiculous the world of fashion can be.

There’s some weird religions around the world: Bare cheek as Japan men strip off for naked festival.  I can see some inspiration for Ace Ventura 3…

TECH: The incredible moment Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket lands back at Cape Kennedy.

MORE TECH: The Man Who Broke Ticketmaster…

Interesting Weekend Read: “Raised in East Germany, Jack Barsky abandoned his mother, brother, wife and son to spy for the KGB. In America, he started a second family. And then it all came crashing down…”  Anything with spies and international intrigue is pretty good reading, right?

Books: It was a bit of a boondoggle this week on the book front. I got quite a bit of the way into two books and decided to quit reading them both because of how bad/annoying they were. The worst part was that they were the handiwork of two of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien.  The culprits were ‘Pilgrim’s Regress’ by Lewis, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – which Tolkien had translated. I think that the latter’s audio reading is what was what pushed me over the edge. The only way I can explain it is that the recording seemed to be overly feminized or something (Terry Jones is the artist to avoid, I suppose)…it wasn’t good. Lancelot is supposed to be this strong and chivalrous knight, after all. As for Lewis, I’m not entirely sure what he was going for, but this book was almost unreadable. I have read in other places (I think Jacob’s bio on Lewis points this out) that Pilgrim’s Regress was his worst book; now I know it for myself!  To top all of this off, my family started the second book in the Wrinkle in Time series, and the book got off to a VERY slow and repetitious start…I surely hope that this coming week is better!

What made my reading tolerable this week was time I got to spend in Psalm 119. It was obvious to me that the writer is someone who has a strong desire for reading and treasuring the Word of God. Here’s a great sample:

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! (Psalm 119:33-40)

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy your weekend.



4 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: February 25, 2017

  1. The book you mentioned by H. R. McMaster “…was written as part of his Ph.D. dissertation” in “American history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).”
    Source: Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._McMaster [accessed 25 FEB 2017].

    For more on the new National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster:

    Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, Visiting Fellow / National Security Affairs Fellow 2002-2003
    (Includes bio and 18 recent articles by him.), Hoover Institution at http://www.hoover.org/profiles/h-r-mcmaster [accessed 20 FEB 2017].

    Aaron Bandler, “7 Things You Need To Know About Trump’s New National Security Advisor” (20 FEB 2017), on The Daily Wire at http://www.dailywire.com/news/13659/7-things-you-need-know-about-trumps-new-national-aaron-bandler [accessed 20 FEB 2017].

    Thomas Gibbons-Neff , “The tank battle that came to define the early career of H.R. McMaster” (21 FEB 2017), on Stars and Stripes at http://www.stripes.com/lifestyle/military-history/the-tank-battle-that-came-to-define-the-early-career-of-h-r-mcmaster-1.455103 [accessed 22 FEB 2017]; reposted from The Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/02/21/the-tank-battle-that-came-to-define-the-early-career-of-trumps-new-national-security-adviser/ [accessed 22 FEB 2017].

  2. On Psalm 119: I used to walk to work 19 blocks one way (apx. 1.7 miles). I attempted to put the time to good use by memorizing Scripture as I walked. I got really ambitious, and went to work on Psalm 119. The first impression that I am sure many share with me of what lies on the surface of this Psalm was one of repetition for the sake of an acrostic poem, saying the same basic things in different ways. As I labored on memorizing it, however, I was increasingly impressed with the flow and the development of the themes as the Psalm progressed. I learned to appreciate the beauty and the genius of this inspired composition. This has been well expressed by Charles H. Spurgeon in his “Treasury of David”:

    “Many superficial readers have imagined that it harps upon one string, and abounds in pious repetitions and redundancies; but this arises from the shallowness of the reader’s own mind: those who have studied this divine hymn, and carefully noted each line of it, are amazed at the variety and profundity of the thought. Using only a few words, the writer has produced permutations and combinations of meaning which display his holy familiarity with his subject, and the sanctified ingenuity of his mind. He never repeats himself; for if the same sentiment recurs it is placed in a fresh connection, and so exhibits another interesting shade of meaning. The more one studies it the fresher it becomes. As those who drink the Nile water like it better every time they take a draught, so does this Psalm become the more full and fascinating the oftener you turn to it. It contains no idle word; the grapes of this cluster are almost to bursting full with the new wine of the kingdom. The more you look into this mirror of a gracious heart the more you will see in it. Placid on the surface as the sea of glass before the eternal throne, it yet contains within its depths an ocean of fire, and those who devoutly gaze into it shall not only see the brightness, but feel the glow of the sacred flame. It is loaded with holy sense, and is as weighty as it is bulky. Again and again have we cried while studying it, “Oh the depths!” Yet these depths are hidden beneath an apparent simplicity, as Augustine has well and wisely said, and this makes the exposition all the more difficult. Its obscurity is hidden beneath a veil of light, and hence only those discover it who are in thorough earnest, not only to look on the word, but, like the angels, to look into it.” Source: StudyLight at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tod/psalms-119.html [accessed 25 FEB 2017].

    1. Well said. There’s a lot of depth in psalm 119. I haven’t studied it at length but my wife is doing so right now and enjoying it. The thing which has always stood out to me is how the desires of the psalmist are for the lord and how his prayers are that the Lord would continually change his desires. He is working on the heart here from several different angles. And, he seems to be saying over and over in nuanced ways, that his opinion is that the word/law of the lord is what changes his heart and brings him joy. He wants more of this and sees how all who are wicked and unhappy and strive after evil do so in close connection to their abhorrence of the Word. This connection is important. It’s a very rich portion of scripture!

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