Celebrating “Amateurity”

September 20, 2010

My wife loves Little House on the Prairie. Not the books, mind you, but the late 70’s TV show. The one that played every day in our hometown at 10am and 3 pm.  We own every episode on DVD, and yet she will watch it whenever it comes on the Hallmark channel. Needless to say, I have absorbed a lot of Little House through marriage.

One of the most interesting things to me about Little House on the Prairie is Charles Ingall’s forgotten talent. Every now and then, Pa picks up the fiddle and thrills the family with a jig, a hymn, or a mournful tune. It’s truly delightful to imagine this sod busting, mule driving farmer coming in at the end of the day, hands sore from gripping the plow, and reaching for a delicate violin to draw out some melodies at the end of the day. I’m pretty sure Pa didn’t go to the conservatory. He just picked it up and played. It seems very unusual in our day, but I wish it didn’t.

The arts are just part of the fabric of living. We have always made art, whether in drawing, creating, design, or music.  But there has been a shift since the Ingalls family built their little house. Families rarely make their own art anymore. We encourage children to draw, to write, and to sing, but we put down our creative tools as we grow up. It is as if we equate our amateur attempts at art and creativity, a God-given trait of mankind, with immaturity or childish things. Following in the wake of our consumer culture, we have outsourced the creative process to professionals and accepted the role of observers and critics. We look at paintings and photography, we watch our plays on TVs or at the movies, we listen to our music, and we read our books. I have realized that I am so busy consuming “art” that I am robbing myself from the opportunity of making art. Read the rest of this entry »


Here’s what Pastor Terry Jones could say on Saturday, in front of the worldwide news media:

Like many people in America, I’m concerned over what I perceive to be a growing threat of radical Islam in the world.  I thought that by burning the Koran, my church could make a statement that we will never back down to fundamentalist Muslims.  I realize now that, even if my convictions remain, my approach was wrong.  Not only have I caused potential harm to our military troops, whom I wholeheartedly support, but I have also added unnecessary offense to the message I want the whole world to hear: that Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God in the flesh, was crucified for sinners and raised to life for the salvation of all who will turn to him in faith.  I have asked God to forgive me for obscuring this really good news.  I’m asking my fellow Christians to forgive me for my foolishness, which has made their own witness harder.  And I would like to ask my Muslim neighbors in particular to forgive me.  I hope in my repentance right now that they will see some evidence of the humility and love of Jesus, whose name I hope to represent better in the future.

Jones’ folly has no doubt done irreparable damage to the witness of the gospel.  But how might God be pleased even now to use Jones’ humble repentance and clear statement of the gospel?  Surely we should pray that Jones will not only change his mind about burning the Koran on 9/11, but that his explanation will seek to restore honor to Christ and the kingdom.